Groups unite to distribute 600 coats to Salt Lake City’s unsheltered

SALT LAKE CITY – With snow and very cold temperatures dominating recent forecasts, several groups are hoping to make a difference in the unsecured accelerated plans for a mass distribution of coats on the streets of Salt Lake City.

Non-profit Unsheltered Utah, Utah Bearded Santas, Northern Realty and Faye’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning were among the groups and companies involved in the collection, cleaning and distribution of more than 600 coats that were given to those in need Thursday evening.

“It has critical mass,” said Christine Stenquist, chairwoman of Unsheltered Utah. “Really, we’re in a position where coats and sleeping bags are the only options right now, so these come at a critical time, especially with this cold snap this week.”

Unsheltered Utah began last year as a collaboration with friends who, according to Vice President Nate Kizerian, initially raised funds through social media.

Kizerian said he decided to get involved and help after experiences in his own life.

“I actually had to leave home to become a caregiver in 2017,” said Kizerian. “I knew that one day I would run into each other on the street – which means that I would meet someone who was under the same circumstances as me. I had no protection because I lost my late wife to cancer. “

The group now collects and distributes numerous items to the homeless, including clothing, shoes, blankets, backpacks and care packages.

Utah County-based Utah Crisis Food Response is also helping the group provide food as well as provide volunteers in the distribution effort, Kizerian said.

Stenquist and Kizerian said the organization is always looking for new donations and is currently recommending coats, blankets and sleeping bags as opposed to tents, which the group says are regularly confiscated and thrown away during cleanups and evictions.

Though most shied away from reporting the distribution, on Thursday at least some of the unprotected people thanked for the supplies – something that moves Stenquist.

“The thanks people give for just getting a hygiene kit so they can have soap,” Stenquist explained with tears in his eyes, “is so badly needed out here that coats are a must-have, a must-have in the winter months. “

Kizerian said he was determined to try and make a difference as best he could.

“We just saw the need to be out there and we couldn’t leave,” said Kizerian.

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