MICHIGAN (WNEM) – As a first-grade teacher at Meridian Elementary, Jamie Engler saw a need.

“Every day, kids come to school, you know, without proper winter gear. And it just breaks your heart, like you hate to think that they go without something so simple that so many of us take for granted,” Engler said.

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You can donate to the tree by dropping your hats or gloves off at One Church, or you can grab a plastic bag, a clip and hang them yourself. | Credit: WNEM

So, she decided to do something about it.

“I said to my husband, you know why don’t we set up a tree where people can come and get mittens and gloves,” Engler said.

And so, Sanford’s Mitten tree was born, sponsored by One Church, the church Jamie and her husband John started less than two months ago.

You can donate to the tree by dropping your hats or gloves off at One Church, or you can grab a plastic bag, a clip and hang them yourself.

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The tree is part of a bigger movement, Sanford Shines, a new holiday tradition of putting up lights and trees around the village.

“I think it is still really important to all of us to remain in that spirit of community that really came to light after the flood,” said Anna Merillat, the Sanford Shines coordinator.

Merillat helped coordinate the 80 or so themed trees that are up in Porte Park and along Saginaw Road.

“That’s the funnest part of Sanford Shines is the individuality of each tree. So, you know, the hardware store will decorate theirs with beer cans and lotto tickets, and the bait shop will decorate theirs with tackle items,” Merillat said.

And One Church adds gloves for those who need it.

After the tree comes down, the Englers will take the gloves to schools and keep the donation bin outside the church if people want to help.

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