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November 22, 2022 / Multiple Schools

Community organizations spread kindness and warmth in D45


With help from community organizations, D45 students will keep warm this winter.

Throughout the fall, The Villa Park Rotary Club, The Rotary Club of Lombard, Warm Coats for Cool Kids, and The Assistance League Chicagoland West’s Operation School Bell Program provided D45 students with winter coats, hats, gloves, footwear and snow pants all in anticipation of the upcoming winter season.

D45 school social workers and counselors identified students and families in need of these items, and the D45 Community Engagement Office supported their efforts.

“We are so grateful to these wonderful organizations for helping to keep our students and families bundled up this winter,” said Claudia Garcia, School District 45 community engagement coordinator. “Our students and families are so appreciative of the donations they receive. Our district is fortunate to be a part of such a kind and giving community.”

Each year, D45 works with community organizations to offer students and families needed winter items through school distributions and in-person shopping events.

Again this year, D45 and the Villa Park Rotary Club hosted families at Famous Footwear in The Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard to shop for footwear during “Boots and Shoes” events that first began in 2012.

The Club’s service project chair, Tom Smith, hopes that through these events, the lives of the families they help support become “easier, happier, and healthier.”

“For some children, it’s their first pair of shoes because they’ve always gotten hand-me-downs,” said Smith. “So to see their faces when they are able to pick out their own shoes is really great and gratifying to see. I know it goes a long way for families, so we will continue to help out as long as possible.”

The Villa Park Rotary Club also joined the Rotary Club of Lombard in donating a supply of coats, snow pants, snow boots, hats and gloves to D45 students.

Kristy Sholtes, a social worker at the D45 Early Childhood Center, said that she would not be able to perform her duties without contributions and donations from community organizations like the Rotary Clubs.

“As a school, we can provide many things, but contributions from these organizations allow us to go above and beyond what educationally we can do,” said Sholtes.

This fall, social workers, counselors, and the D45 Community Engagement office also worked with Warm Coats for Cool Kids and The Assistance League’s Operation School Bell program to distribute new coats and winter accessories to students. In lieu of coats and winter accessories, the Assistance League donated Kohl’s gift cards to identified D45 middle school students and their families.

Students and families that attended the district-wide Warm Coats for Cool Kids distribution were treated to a unique experience where they could “shop” for their new coats with the help of volunteers from St. Francis High School in Wheaton. Co-founder of the organization, Garry Vaccaro, says that for every distribution, volunteers bring 2-3 times the number of coats that are needed.

“This allows us to present multiple coats in different styles and colors to the student,” explained Vaccaro. “Having the student shop for their coat is a more dignified process, instills a pride of ownership, and results in a better experience for the student.”

Josselyn Maya, a social worker at Stevenson Elementary School, said that the community organizations that D45 works with provide the support and hope that families and students facing financial challenges need.

“A pair of shoes, a warm coat, or food makes all the difference to our families and students,” says Maya. “Community organizations help and remind all of us it truly takes a village to raise our next generation.”

Thank you to The Villa Park Rotary Club, The Rotary Club of Lombard, Warm Coats for Cool Kids, and The Assistance League Chicagoland West’s Operation School Bell Program for spreading kindness and warmth through your donations and support of D45 families! And a special thank you to D45 social workers and counselors for ALL your diligent work with our students and families!