The Service Club at Evergreen Park Community High School, 9901 S. Kedzie Ave. in Evergreen Park, is hosting a blanket drive until February 11. From left to right: Jack Donnelly, 17, of Evergreen Park; Myah Johnson, 18, of Evergreen Park; and Gabby Smith, 17, of Evergreen Park. (Supplied photos)

The Service Club at Evergreen Park Community High School, 9901 S. Kedzie Ave. in Evergreen Park, is hosting a blanket drive until February 11. From left to right: Jack Donnelly, 17, of Evergreen Park; Myah Johnson, 18, of Evergreen Park; and Gabby Smith, 17, of Evergreen Park. (Supplied photos)

Evergreen Park High students collect blankets for the homeless

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By Kelly White

Students at Evergreen Park Community High School started up an effort to keep the homeless warm as cold temperatures and frigid air have hit the Chicagoland area this winter.

The Service Club at the high school, 9901 S. Kedzie Ave. in Evergreen Park, is hosting a blanket drive through Friday, February 11.

“What I love about the blanket drive is when around this time of year, we can help give back to those who are less fortunate,” Jack Donnelly, 17, of Evergreen Park, said. “No one deserves to be freezing and I am just happy we can help.”

Donations of new or gently used blankets are still being accepted through the school’s main office from students, faculty, staff, as well as community members. Anyone who donates a blanket receives a heart sticker as a thank you for their kindness.

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Evergreen Park Community High School Service Club member, Quincy Whiteside, 18, of Evergreen Park, was happy to be a part of the school’s first Blanket Drive.

“We are always looking for creative ways to help those in need,” Eileen Durkin, School Counselor at Evergreen Park Community High School, said. “With COVID, it has been challenging to get hands-on opportunities. So, we thought with the cold temperatures, a blanket drive would be perfect! A clean, dry blanket can mean the world to someone who is homeless.”

Durkin said the event is not so much unique as much as it serves a practical purpose, benefiting those in need.

“During these freezing cold months, shelters are either full or not taking people because of COVID protocol,” Durkin said. “I recently met a homeless woman in Chicago Ridge. It was freezing out and a clean, dry blanket meant the world to her. She could not get into a shelter because of COVID.  A blanket could make the difference between surviving through the night and not.”

Students are gaining a valuable life lesson by participating, as well.

“They learn to think about others,” Durkin said. “Many of us are fortunate, so, it is important to be generous, kind and thoughtful to others. A small act of kindness can go a long way. That’s what I hope they learn.”

EPCHS senior, Quincy Whiteside, agreed.

“The blanket drive’s purpose is to support those who can’t afford blankets or warm clothes during the coldest months of the year,” Whiteside, 18, of Evergreen Park, said. “However, this blanket drive provides more than just warmth for the people. It also provides a sense of comfort and an act of kindness that the unfortunate doesn’t see enough.”

Whiteside, a member of the school’s Service Club, said he takes pride in looking out for others.

“By helping out and giving a blanket is a great way to help the community and it really helps recognize the state of the society around you,” Whiteside said. “By recognizing this I have really learned to appreciate what you have and how to share these privileges with others.”

This was the first year the blanket drive took place at the school, but school officials are hoping to carry on the event annually.

More than 50 blankets have been collected. They will be distributed to homeless shelters after Valentine’s Day.

“I like how the blanket drive is different from any other drive,” Gabby Smith, 17, of Evergreen Park, said. “It helps people during this time a lot more than it may seem.”

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