SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Krista Owens would walk down the streets see the amount of under-dressed people living on the streets during the Syracuse winter. Three years ago, she found a way that she could give back to the local community: a coat drive.
Year after year, the coat drive has produced increasing amount of coat and money donations.
“Our first year was about 250 coats and maybe $500, so it doubled the second year, which was great,” said Owens.
Last year, there were 722 people—including children— living on the streets in Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties, according to the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York. In 2018, 32.6% of Syracuse residents were living under the poverty line, according to a study carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Owens, owner of the Lavish Salon in the Village of North Syracuse, decided to collaborate with the Rescue Mission Alliance to host a coat drive directly from her salon. After seeing the successful results of her first drive, she decided to make it an annual campaign.
The Rescue Mission Alliance has felt the positive impact of Owens’s contributions, said Community Engagement and Donation Specialist Jeannine Goodrich.
“They brought down, I don’t know how many bags,” ,” said Goodrich. “I think it was 15 or 16 giant bags of coats that first year, and they were given out just as quickly as we were able to un-bag them.”
Many of the people who seek shelter at the Rescue Mission Alliance at 155 Gifford St. come in with health issues such as frostbite during the winter, said Goodrich. When temperatures drop below freezing, the organization declares a ‘code blue’ weather status and provides emergency shelter for the homeless.