Volunteers are working now to make winter warmer for everyone in Isabella County

Winter in Isabella County will be a little warmer thanks to the work of a group of Isabella County volunteers.

The annual Christmas Outreach of Isabella County began its work in August. Since then, they’ve accepted donations and shopped sales to provide coats, hats, mittens, linens, books, and Christmas decorations to Isabella County families in need.

Now, even as the gathering of supplies continues, the organization is ready to start accepting recipients, says Stephanie Ohms, the Christmas Outreach Advertising Coordinator.

All who live in Isabella County are eligible for the program. To register, call (989) 773-4204 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mon., Oct. 31 to Fri., Nov. 4 and Mon., Nov. 7 to Fri., Nov. 11.

“As long as they’re from Isabella County, they get in,” Ohms says.

Interested people must register during that two-week time period to be eligible, she adds. Ohms also notes that the phone number this year is different from previous years.

When you call to register, you’ll be assigned to a shopping appointment. This year, the shopping appointments are available at Campus Life, 1200 W. High St., on Mon., Dec. 12, Tues., Dec. 13, and Wed., Dec. 14.

At the shopping appointment, guests visit different departments to select warm-weather gear, household items, and more. The offerings depend on donations. But Ohms says one goal is that everyone leaves with a coat.

“Our main goal is everyone gets a coat of some sort,” Ohms says. “One of our main focuses is making sure everyone is warm for the winter.”

Everyone also leaves with a tote packed with paper towels, soaps, detergent, and other household products.

“There are some families who come just for that tote,” Ohms says. “It’s one of the top things people come for. It’s things that Bridge cards don’t pay for, so those are all the things people are in need of that they can’t get on a regular basis.”

The Christmas Outreach program began at Immanual Lutheran Church in 1980. It’s grown since then. In 2021, it served 1,342 people from 396 households. Ohms expects even more people to register for the program this year.

Donors are key to making the program succeed. Ohms says they don’t distribute toys or clothing, but they are accepting donations of items such as coats, hats, gloves, mittens, blankets, sheets, towels, and paper products. New this year is that donations will be accepted only between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 9, and Sat., Dec. 10 and from 2 to 4 p.m. Sun., Dec. 11.

Monetary donations can be mailed to Christmas Outreach of Isabella County, PO Box 1227, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48804.

During the annual event, people move through different departments collecting coats, linens, and other household goods. (Photo courtesy of Christmas Outreach of Isabella County)Volunteers are needed for the project. Right now, Ohms says volunteers are shopping early-bird sales to stock up on goods at lower prices. Volunteers also are asking businesses to offer discounts or donate items to the project. Ohms says they are especially in need of large-size coats. There is tremendous demand for coats in adults sizes 2X and larger, she says.

In a written statement, the Christmas Outreach committee says the volunteers come from all walks of life.

“They come together to provide coats, hats, mittens, books, boots, bedding, linens, towels, Christmas items, bikes, Christmas trees, Christmas stockings, and household items for those in need. It helps children learn at an early age what it means for neighbors to give to neighbors. Individuals and organizations give of their time and money so everyone can have a brighter and warmer Christmas.”