Flint, MI—Dominique Strong’s “social worker instincts” kicked in, she said, as she waited for her son’s bus to pick him up one cold winter morning seven years ago.
“I noticed some kids had on coats that weren’t buttoned up or zipped up properly,” she said. “Some kids didn’t have on hats. Some kids didn’t have on gloves.”
Shortly after that day, Strong and some friends launched Warming Bodies Through Love, an outreach campaign to get children in Flint, Mich. the proper clothing they need to stay warm through the winter.
That campaign is still going seven years later as Strong and a handful of volunteers from her community organization Uma Strong Marshall Outreach (USMO) spent the bulk of their day on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, giving out winter clothes to kids who need them.
“We are here to fill in the gaps for our Flint families for the betterment of their health and wellbeing,” she said. “We just want to just be community builders.”
As families stopped into the Rosa Parks Conference Room at the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) station in downtown Flint, Strong and her volunteers sifted through boxes of jackets, hats and gloves to find each child their perfect fits.
USMO chose the MTA station to try to meet families where they’d already be, Strong said.
For Seanna, USMO’s 13-year-old president who asked that her last name be omitted from this article, the need for winter attire giveaways is evident at her school, where she sometimes sees classmates come in without jackets, she said. She’s been serving with USMO for about two years and just got promoted to president this past summer.
“One of the times I gave a coat to a kid, and he came around the table, and he hugged me,” Seanna said. “That was a moment I still cherish. He was so excited.”
USMO, with support from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Genesee Health System, Target and others, hoped to give out clothing to about 200 families during Monday’s giveaway, Strong said. Any leftovers will go to Flint’s New Standard Academy, then it’s back to shopping for more. Anyone else looking for clothing can reach out to USMO on social media (@USMOStrong) or email email@example.com.