NORTHBROOK — Donating outerwear to a coat drive can become even more meaningful when the donor has something very personal in common with the recipient.
Students at the junior high as well as the rest of the Northbrook School District 28 schools are part of a community-wide effort sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Northbrook and Deerfield through December 20 providing the clothing to PADS of Lake County.
PADS is a homeless shelter based in Waukegan, according to its website. The typical shelter patron receiving a coat and other clothing is a 12-year-old girl, according to Mike Hale, a Northbrook Rotary member chairing the drive. He said he learned the statistic when PADS Executive Director Joel Williams spoke to the club.
Ella Glazer, a Northbrook Junior High sixth grader who turns 12 later this month, dropped a coat in the bin not realizing how much she might have in common with the recipient. Then she found out.
“It feels really good,” said Glazer. “In the beginning was my mom telling me to do it, and when I brought it in, it felt good because I didn’t see any other coats in there. It felt like a nice thing to do because I gave someone else the chance to be warm in the winter.”
Glazer was not the only one surprised about the children who seek refuge at PADS. Superintendent Larry Hewitt, who is also the president of the Northbrook Rotary, said it was a shocker to him too.
“It was astonishing to me,” said Hewitt. “They do a lot for families with young children,” he added referring to PADS’ mission.
This is the fourth year District 28 schools have been one of the drop off sites, according to Hewitt. He said it is part of the children’s education as well as a charitable effort.
“It teaches them empathy, caring and compassion,” said Hewitt. “They are helping the community and kids who are experiencing something 180 degrees apart from them. They realize the homeless population is more than adults. They learn children experience it too.”
The drive itself is been around much longer. Northbrook Rotary has been collecting coats for underserved persons since 1965, according to Hale. He said the recipients have been different organizations over the years.
Hale said some of the coats are “gently used” while others are new. He said people go out and buy them just for the drive. They go in the bins with the tags still affixed.
Including the District 28 schools, there are 37 locations where people can donate in Northbrook and four more in Deerfield, according to Hale. The effort goes beyond Rotary. There are a number of organizations involved.
“It’s a public private partnership,” said Hale.
Along with corporate participants, Hale said there is help from the village, the Northbrook Police Department, Glenbrook North High School, the North Suburban YMCA, the Northbrook Park District, the Northbrook Public Library and the Boy Scouts.