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Football coach finds higher calling in coat donations

He’s used to guiding kids from the sidelines. But Memorial’s head football coach though has another passion rooted in perspective. (KTUL)

When the weather gets cold, there’s an unfortunate reality: thousands of kids across the country are left without a coat to keep them warm.

One Tulsa man is trying to change that and set an example for his own kids at the same time.

You’ll probably walk right past it as the ice freezes around the babbling drain, but one tree near the 41st Street Plaza is the Gracious Tree.

“We have a duty to take care of each other,” says Ryan Reed, standing under the tree. “And sometimes with life, the way it is now, we forget that.”

It’s stemmed a business of more than three years

“The business plan was to make everyone, runners, and non-runners, feel warmth, love and a sense of accomplishment,” Reed says. “And we needed a logo, so the tree was the logo.”

That business is branching out to the people who need it the most, providing coats for the needy.

“I think the fact that it’s just a coat gets lost,” Reed says with his kids at his sides. “Because it’s so much more than that. It’s realizing that someone cares about you.”

Reed’s used to guiding kids from the sidelines, but Memorial’s head football coach has another passion rooted in perspective.

“I’ve been coaching for 15 years and I’ve had a couple of wins,” Reed says. “But I can’t put it in words. It’s awesome. I have a friend who’s a pastor, he sums it up really good. He says ‘Gracious Tree is a biblical solution to a societal problem’. You know, we’re just trying to make the world a little bit better.”

A bit of warmth, and symbolism, in a cold world.

“You can see everything on the outside,” Reed says looking up into the leafless branches. “But down below are these deep roots that solidify the tree and the beauty grows out the top, but the deep roots that hold it solid.”

Gracious Tree will donate a coat to a child for every one you buy on their website, or you can donate to just buy a coat for a child.

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