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Sleeping Bag Coats’ Update 1-10-21, by Coach Dick Shilts

Yesterday Tim and I traveled to the small encampment behind the old Wayside on Stadium Drive. We touched base with some folks who had already been given sleeping bag coats, and we learned that there were some “new” campers there. Two of them were forced outside because of problems “receiving their unemployment checks.” They welcomed the coats and told us of their hopes that they could get their “paperwork straightened out” and would not be there long. We met there the fourth lady we know about who is sleeping outside while pregnant.

Then we traveled to Acadia Park downtown to visit some folks hanging out there. We had not stopped there previously because we had “guessed” that folks that show up there were probably sleeping at the nearby Gospel Mission. Tim asked them if they were sleeping outside or staying at the mission. All but one was sleeping outside! With colder days coming, that was good enough for us. They had heard about the coats and were excited that we stopped with some coats for them. We gave out 7 new coats at that site.

We have now given out 94 sleeping bag coats. And the good news is that we have submitted two new orders, one for 15 coats and the other for 50 (yes, 50!) more coats. We should have those 65 coats by the end of this coming week. However, we are beginning to think that we have estimated low, that the need is far greater than we anticipated. I personally do not think we will have any trouble at all finding 250 folks that need and would welcome these unique items.

By providing these “sleeping bag coats” donors are, at the same time, providing jobs and training for formerly homeless people in Detroit who make the coats. Be sure to check out this non-profit organization at and join us in helping some of God’s beloved who “ain’t got it so good” by donating $131 (includes $6 shipping) per sleeping bag coat. You can go to the website to sponsor a coat yourself, organize a group to help raise funds, or you can make a check out to Empowerment Plan and send it to:

Dick Shilts
2949 Sunset Rd
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

I will be sending checks in increments of 5 to Detroit, and the coats will be sent to my home for distribution. You can contact me at or (269) 567-8023 if you have further questions. And many thanks to all of the wonderful people who have already responded to this grave need!

The coats are, obviously, a band-aid for the issue of homelessness, but they at least let the people we are giving them to be a bit warmer each night and more importantly, know that they are not alone–we see them and we love them.  Here are a few pics and videos that folks have given us permission to use.

-Dick Shilts