New or gently used coats, hats, gloves, jackets, scarves, sweaters and toys will be distributed to the need, and donations are still being accepted.
The first giveaway will be held today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at New Jehova Baptist Church, 1101 S. Austin St. (enter on Fillmore Street). Coats, hats, sweaters, jackets and gloves will be distributed today, while just toys will be handed out Dec. 12 at the church from 11 a.m. t0 2 p.m.
Items can be dropped off at:
- New Jehovah Baptist Church (773-251-6596)
- Because I Care Inc., 5811 W. Chicago Ave. (773-261-0555)
- Commissioner Earlean Collins’ 1st District Office, 5943 W. Madison St. (773-712-1172)
The New Jehovah Baptist Church is no stranger to giving back. The church hands out clothes and provides a hot meal every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“We teamed up with Commissioner Collins to make it bigger. By ourselves, we were on a little scale, but with her, we’ve been able to reach out to so many,” said Eliza Rogers, secretary of the church and wife of the church’s pastor, Jonathan Rogers.
Rogers estimates the church handed out about 200 toys and clothing to more than 300 people last November, and estimates that even more will be distributed this year.
“It will benefit the community tremendously,” said Roman Morrow of Because I Care Inc. “You just don’t know how many children are out there that are in desperate need of coats.”
Morrow said he sees many children wearing only hooded sweatshirts to keep warm.
“We need more events like this, and other organizations like ours to participate in events like this, because there are needy families out there,” said Morrow.
James Spearman, president and CEO of Because I Care Inc,. said Morrow made him aware of children who participate in Because I Care, a youth mentor program, not showing up properly clothed for the weather. Donors who don’t have access to a vehicle may call Because I Care and the group will send someone to pick up the items.
“I think it’s a very valid need that needs to be fulfilled in the West Side, and not just the West side, but the city of Chicago,” said Spearman, who also runs a tax preparation business across the street from Because I Care.
“We need more government officials to get involved and ask, ‘what can we do?’” said Spearman.
While some praise Collins’ event, others wish local officials would focus their efforts on other community issues, leaving coat drives to non-profits and religious groups.
“There are enough organizations that do that,” said Rev. Reginald Bachus of the Friendship Baptist Church.
Elce Redmond of the South Austin Coalition agrees.
“I think there are larger issues that exist, and I think they should focus on that. Let’s get down to the crux of why people are in need of food and clothes,” said Redmond, suggesting that politicians should be addressing long-term issues of poverty and unemployment.
Commissioner Collins could not be reached for comment.