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Care for Real Coat Drive Aids Recent Immigrants and Refugees In Edgewater

coat-drive-1Edgewater is a highly diverse community, which becomes clear when walking down the street or driving through the neighborhood. The diversity comes not only in terms of race and ethnicity but also economically. Some neighbors rely on Section 8 housing vouchers while others live in homes worth half a million dollars or more.

Among the diverse residents are numerous immigrants and refugees, some of whom have never experienced cold weather or a Chicago winter. They have come to Chicago to find better economic opportunities as well as to escape oppressive political regimes.

Edgewater’s Pan-African Association works with people from more than 20 countries, including Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Haiti, Iraq, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan. They are in various stages of resettlement and have often come to Chicago seeking education and employment. They combine their interests from their homelands with those of the U.S., with some enjoying hip hop music and American movies as well as hobbies such as sewing. In many cases, they speak multiple languages and work on honing their English skills.

Another local organization that helps those in need is 45-year-old Care for Real, which operates a food pantry, provides job assistance and distributes clothing, housewares and personal care items, among other services. Each month, Care for Real hands out 11,000 items to individuals facing poverty.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Care for Real is partnering with the Red Cross and the Pan-African Association to distribute coats and welcome recent immigrants and others in need. Care for Real expects more than 300 individuals to benefit from this coat drive, which has been happening for at least 10 years.

Care for Real is open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Those wishing to help are asked to donate new or gently used items, including coats, mittens, gloves, sweaters, hats and socks. While all sizes are accepted, those for teens and children, especially pre-teens ages 9-12, are especially appreciated.

“The majority of those turning to us for assistance are families,” explained Care for Real’s Lyle Allen in an email. And all donations are tax deductible, notes Allen.

Care for Real has a team of volunteers who will assist contributors with donations, including helping to unload cars and providing receipts.

Here are some helpful details:

  • The deadline for donations for this coat drive is Mon. Oct. 24, 3 p.m.
  • Care for Real is located at 5339 N. Sheridan Road.
  • Contact Caiti or Lyle at Care for Real with questions. The phone number is 773-769-6182, or use the email info@careforreal.com.
  • Care for Real also welcomes cash donations online at http://www.careforreal.org/donate.
  • The organization is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CareforReal/.

Care for Real encourages those who aren’t able to make the deadline to donate as they are able. The nonprofit seeks assistance throughout the year and especially during the winter season.

“Care for Real is seeking donations, especially cash contributions that allow us to stretch dollars even further, so we ensure all our neighbors in need stay warm and safe during the upcoming winter season,” points out Allen. And “we are always looking for volunteers! Those interested can apply online at www.careforreal.org, or stop by for a volunteer application.”

By the end of 2016, Care for Real expects to have served almost 100,000 area individuals.

As we near Thanksgiving, Allen shares his gratitude: “Care for Real has been embraced in such a big way and despite these tough economic times, where so many not for profits have closed their doors, cut programs and/or eliminated staff, we continue to reach thousands of our neighbors in need facing many challenges.”


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