DETROIT — It’s never too early to begin preparing for the winter wonderland that is southeast Michigan.
On Wednesday, the volunteers from the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) collected adult and children’s winter clothing and monetary donations at each of the four entrances of Joe Louis Arena before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The first 20 fans to make a monetary donation or donate winter clothing received a hockey puck autographed by a member of the Red Wings. Doors to the Joe opened up 90 minutes in advance of the 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Deborah Sprich, season ticket holder from West Bloomfield, Michigan, saw a post on the team website asking for donations and came to the arena gates with something extra.
“Everything good that the Red Wings do for folks, this is just another way to help people out that can’t afford to buy gloves or coats or hats or blankets and keep warm because it's getting cold.”
Fans were encouraged to bring clean, new or gently used winter clothing articles such as gloves, mittens, scarves, socks, hats and blankets. All items collected on Nov. 26 will benefit COTS to help prevent frostbite among the homeless, who are especially at risk of this preventable injury.
“Well I think they need a bigger box, that one is already full,” Sprich said. “I think it’s great because then I know that these people go out and actually give them to people who need this stuff.”
Wednesday marked the 21st time that the Wings have participated in Motor City Mitten Madness by collecting winter apparel at select home games during the month of November each year.
In fact, last year’s efforts brought in 394 pieces of winter clothing and $786 in monetary donations to COTS during the Mitten Madness movement.
Frankie Piccirilli, major gifts manager in the fundraising department for COTS, said the opportunity to run a collection drive at the Joe was a unique experience to help raise support for the organization’s cause.
“This is a really wonderful way for people to come out the night before Thanksgiving, enjoy a game with their family and give back in the same breath. I think it’s a wonderful way to give thanks and show appreciation to pay it forward and I guarantee that every single one of these mittens and gloves is going to someone in need.”
Since 1982, COTS has been committed to serving the most vulnerable members of the Detroit community and helps alleviate homelessness by providing an array of services that enable people to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain quality, affordable housing.
The organization manages multiple facilities with a staff of more than 90 people and an annual budget in excess of $7 million. Annually, COTS serves more than 2,000 Detroit area homeless citizens in its emergency shelter and approximately 450 individuals and families in transitional and permanent housing programs.
Recently, COTS became a family-only shelter, meaning that any open spaces in the shelter are being filled with families in need. Piccirilli said clothing donations would be taken to the emergency shelter and put in the clothing room where clients can go and pick up items that they need for their family.
“We have more children in our shelter than ever before,” she said. “Last count was we were up to 70. Before we became a family-only shelter, we had about 20 kids on any given night.”
Monetary donations can be made online directly on the cotsdetroit.org home page and clothing donations can be sent to 26 Peterboro Street, Detroit, MI 48201.