The leaders of three local churches invite anyone in need of a free coat, blanket or sleeping bag to visit them this weekend.
The Tooele Gospel Partnership is a collaboration between the Berean Full Gospel Church, Tooele Christian Fellowship and Mountain of Faith Lutheran Church. The churches first came together in July to hold a series of religious revival meetings.
The group will start giving away winter gear on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Phil’s Glass, 635 N. Main Street, Tooele. Volunteers will stay at Phil’s Glass until the gear is gone or the people stop coming, said Dan Butcher, pastor of Tooele Christian Fellowship.
People can either pre-register for gear by calling 435-578-8022 or just show up to look through the selection on a first-come, first-serve basis, Butcher said.
“We do want to reach some genuine need,” he said. “We want individuals to try to come down themselves and fit the coat to them.”
Everyone will be welcome and those who attend will be offered hot coffee or chocolate. Butcher will also share a brief message about God’s love for the metaphorical lost sheep and about Jesus Christ.
“It’s not going to be just, ‘Here’s your coat, good-bye,’” he said. “We want to warm their heart, too, and the soul.”
So far, the Tooele Gospel Partnership has collected more than 100 coats of various sizes, 40 sleeping bags and “plenty” of blankets, Butcher said.
Volunteers from the Mountain of Faith Lutheran Church found many of the coats at Deseret Industries stores in Tooele, Salt Lake City and Sandy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided vouchers worth $750 to help purchase the gear.
In addition, volunteers from the Berean Full Gospel Church have arranged to purchase more coats at a discount from the Burlington Coat Factory, Butcher said.
“We’re still gathering things,” he said. “By Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had 200 coats.”
Through the outreach program, church leaders hope to not only offer physical and spiritual warmth to people in need, they want to connect with them so the churches can offer future help as needed, Butcher said.
At the same time, the Tooele Gospel Partnership’s goal is to help people come unto Christ.
“We really would like this to become an effective ministry for Tooele,” Butcher said. “The book of James teaches that if you see a brother in need … you’re to help him. … Also, we do want them to hear about the love of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.”