Fundraiser underway to give EMPWR Coats to those who are homeless
Those looking for a place to make a donation instead of a material gift this holiday season – look no further than a fundraiser that is currently underway. Iris Coker started raising funds after she heard of The Empowerment Plan, a nonprofit based in Detroit that employs women and men experiencing homelessness in making a durable coat that transforms into a sleeping bag. It’s purpose is to help those living on the streets survive winter’s frigid temperatures.
“I’m hoping to hit the goal by the end of December so we can get the coats out to those in need before we get into late January/February,” says Coker. She discovered the program through a video making the rounds on social media and thought it would be wonderful to bring the coats to those in need in Columbus.
“I love that they produce these coats to help those who are homeless to have something to keep them warm during the colder months, but also that they employ men and women who’ve lived in shelters and on the streets,” she says. “It’s really amazing.”
The Empowerment Plan is the project of Veronika Scott, who began working on the coat as a 21 year old design student. While designing the coat, she showed prototypes to people living in an area homeless shelter to get feedback. One woman stated she needed a job, not a coat, and that led Scott to look at the bigger picture of what her project could actually be. Early support from Mark Valade, the CEO of Carhartt, got Scott the materials and machinery to get her idea going and to date, the group has distributed over 15,000 coats across the US and Canada and employed over 34 individuals.
Coker sent an email to the Empowerment Plan through their online contact form and heard back within 24 hours. All they needed to know is how many coats someone is looking to purchase and where they need shipped in order to estimate the shipping charges.
Each EMPWR coat is $100 and Coker decided on 50 coats. Her online fundraiser has been going since December 8, and she is currently at 80% of her $6,000 goal.
Once the coats are in Columbus, Coker plans to work with Vineyard Church’s Urban Ministry program to distribute them.
“I work with Vineyard through the Columbus Diaper Coalition,” she says. “They have two food pantries here in town that were actually the first two pantries we ever distributed diapers through. I knew they had a ministry that provided hot meals to the homeless twice a week and thought they would be ideal for handing out the coats.”
To donate to this cause, visit www.crowdrise.com/empowerment-plan-coats-for-central-ohio-homeless.