DETROIT – For almost two decades, the Detroit Red Wings and DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital Burn Center have been teaming up to ensure the homeless are not left out in the cold during Michigan’s harsh winters.
‘Motor City Mitten Madness’ – now in its 19th year - was back this weekend at Joe Louis Arena as fans brought in cold-weather gear to help protect those in need as temperatures across the state begin to plummet.
The event encouraged Wings fans attending either game to donate new or gently-used winter clothing items such as gloves, mittens, scarves, socks and jackets. The items are then distributed to local Detroit shelters to help prevent frostbite among the city’s homeless population. Shelters benefitting from last year’s Motor City Mitten Madness were Coalition on Temporary Shelter, Covenant House and two branches of the Salvation Army.
For an initiative that the DMC estimates has provided extra clothing for around 8,000 families over the last 18 years, the relief provided cannot be understated. In addition to providing warm clothes to those who cannot afford them, the program also helps educate citizens about frostbite, a type of burn that can lead to the loss of fingers and toes.
“It’s a great opportunity for the Red Wings and DMC to partner to get information out to the public about the needy,” said Detroit Receiving Hospital public relations representative Aluna Johnson. “It gets the word out to a lot of people in shelters about frostbite prevention. We do talks and lectures with our burn physicians as well as donate these coats, hats and gloves.”
The program did not come without incentive for the many Red Wings fans that donated to the cause. Each piece of clothing that a fan contributed entered them in a drawing for a game-used autographed stick. Also accepted were monetary donations that went toward the purchase of additional winter gear for those in need.
One gentleman walked in on Thursday night and literally took the shirt of his back – a button-up sweater – and put it in the donation bin. He caught wind of Motor City Mitten Madness while reading the paper earlier in the day and bought a ticket to the Wings tilt against the Flames during his lunch break.
“I work a couple blocks away and I keep (the sweater) at work,” said Rudy Wantin of Westland. “I wore it because it’s a little bit cold out, so, I wore it today and I saw about the donation in the paper and I’ve been meaning to give it away, so why not here?”
With the help of Rudy and countless others who came through the turnstiles of Joe Louis Arena, the Wings and DMC were able to collect 716 articles of clothing and $801.50 to spend on additional winter gear for those in need.
“It makes a big difference in the community, especially when they see that there are people and companies that are still willing to help those who really need it and can’t get help from anywhere else,” said Johnson. “Hopefully other companies will see that we are lending a hand to the needy, and maybe they’ll be willing to step in and do the same.”