Missing the Coat
Homeless need warm outerwear
By JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Published: 11/24/2009 2:19 AM
Last Modified: 11/24/2009 4:48 AM
Doug Atwater had not planned on ending up in Tulsa, but here he was.
A Greyhound bus brought him in July 2008 — no friends, no home, just $100 in his pocket.
He met a man at the bus station, though, who said, “‘Brother, you can start over here,'” Atwater said, thinking back to his arrival in Oklahoma.
That summer, he visited the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, a visit that changed his life.
“It’s my family here in Tulsa,” he said. “I loved this place, and they love me back.”
Now, Atwater is the clothing room manager for the Tulsa Day Center, which is in need of coats for a fast-approaching winter. That’s why T-Town Trolley and the Tulsa Oilers are teaming up for a one-day, citywide coat drive on Friday to benefit the homeless population.
The trolley will stop at four locations in Tulsa: 10 a.m. at McNellie’s, 409 E. First St.; 1 p.m. at Leon’s, 3301 S. Peoria Ave.; 3 p.m. at Camille’s, 9637 S. Riverside Parkway in Jenks; and 5:30 p.m. downtown at BOK Center, during the Oilers game.
People who donate a coat will receive a free ticket to the hockey game.
“We can take as many coats as we can get,” Atwater said. The weather hasn’t been that bad yet, but it most likely will be soon enough.
This will be Tulsa Day Center’s first coat drive of the year, said Hallie Green, development director at the center. With recently fluctuating temperatures, it’s rather obvious that more coats are needed to stock Atwater’s storage room.
in mind, too, that homeless don’t have places to store their belongings, Green said, so they usually aren’t able to hang on to a coat from season to season.
The center sees about 400 people a day, so coats of all sizes are needed, she said. Anything that can be layered would be much appreciated — sweatshirts, sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, anything to keep men, women and children warm. As men make up the majority of people at the center, men’s coats are needed most.
The center also needs sheets, blankets and bath towels, which are washed daily.
Many people might not realize how important the center is to those who don’t know when — or if — their next meals are coming.
Atwater, for instance, had never been in a situation before like the one he found himself upon arriving in Tulsa. He experienced firsthand what it was like to have no place to go, to depend on strangers for necessities to live — specifically, food and clothes.
“It’s a blessing, this place here,” Atwater said, adding he wished every city in the country had a place like Tulsa Day Center. “You can’t even put a price on it, to serve my brothers and sisters. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to me.”
Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, 415 W. Archer St., needs your help to spread holiday cheer. Here are some simple ways you can do it:
Outdoor lights are always a special treat. You can decorate the center’s courtyard with lights.
Come with craft supplies, enough to make 25-30 ornaments, cards or other decorations.
Be Santa Claus by treating one of the center’s housed clients — mostly single adults, but some families — to the holiday they wouldn’t have otherwise. You will receive a wish list for each person or family that has been nominated by a case manager.
Help collect items so folks who wake up at the center Dec. 25 will have a special breakfast. Needed: 150 each of flavored oatmeal packets, fruit cups or fruit, muffins, milk, sugar, sweetener, juice, hot cocoa packets and decaffeinated coffee.
Let there be light — and water, electricity and staff to serve our clients all year long. That said, monetary gifts are much appreciated. Or donate in honor of friends and family this holiday with a donation in their name and a holiday card you sent out acknowledging your gift.
For more on how you can help, contact Debra Dester at either 583-5588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.