OWOSSO — If you spot a utility pole wearing a winter coat in downtown Owosso, rest easy: Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you.

Angel’s Hands Outreach, a local charity, is behind what it’s calling the Coat Blessing Program. Volunteers are collecting winter coats from donors and distributing them in a unique fashion — by placing them outdoors. The program started this week and will continue all winter.

“We don’t want anyone going without a coat this winter,” said Christial Sierra, owner and founder of Angel’s Hands. “This is one of the ways we are giving back to our community, and changing lives one day at a time.”

The first group to place winter coats outdoors were consumers from the Shiawassee Health & Wellness Employment & Skill Building Program. Out of the 30 coats they placed downtown and in McCurdy Park Wednesday, there were only about 10 left Friday, Sierra said.

The consumers gave recipients a bonus, stuffing the coat pockets with food and personal care items before placing them. In addition, attached to each coat was a tag with contact information explaining where to find more help.

“We wanted to teach the adult consumers how to reach out and help other community members of Shiawassee County, in order to learn how to care for others in need,” Amy Case, staff member of the ESB program, said.

People in need who don’t come across a suitable coat hanging from a fence, pole or tree are invited to visit the Angel’s Hands store, 819 W. Main St. in Westown. About 1,500 more coats — and other clothing items, household goods, toys, shoes and much more — are available there for free.

“If we don’t have a coat in the right size, we’ll get it,” Sierra said, adding that the donated coats are either new or gently used. “If we wouldn’t wear it, it doesn’t go on our racks.”

Anyone who would like to contribute a coat can drop it off at the store during regular hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Health & Wellness ESB consumers operate the store from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Tuesday, and a second Health & Wellness group helps out at the store on Wednesdays.

If coat donors would like to meet the recipients of their generosity, a meeting can be arranged, Sierra said.

Angel’s Hands is also collecting toys for Toys for Tots.

About 11 months ago, after hosting a number of large-scale giveaways for the needy in Bentley Park, Angel’s Hands moved into a storefront. Sierra and her staff connect people in poverty to resources, and supply them with needed household items.

“When they get housing, we’ll go in and furnish the whole house,” Sierra said. “We are willing to get on board to help the less fortunate. We’ll make sure they get what they need.”

Angel’s Hands receives no governmental funding, she said.

For more information about Angel’s Hands, call (517) 803-6745 or find Angel’s Hands Outreach on Facebook.

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