As homelessness pervades the area, humanitarians seek help

Mireya Ruiz, Photography Editor

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Across the country, over 500,000 people remain stranded on the streets of America. We tend to forget this as many of us are tucked in our warm, thick blankets and are well nourished through the winter months. The harsh truth is that there are individuals scattered among the streets waiting for their next meal or bed.
Homelessness can affect anybody, even those at South. According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, there are 292 students among our school district without a home.
Within Illinois, 580 homeless shelters exist, 115 of them found within the Surburban area. A few homeless shelters in the area include Groundwork, MorningStar Mission Missionaries Inc., Catholic Charities Daybreak Center, Kendall County PADS, and Hesed House.
These shelters provide the homeless food and a safe place for shelter. During the winter season, shelters prepare to take in more individuals due to dropping temperatures.
At the Catholic Charities Daybreak Center in Joliet, free housing is granted to the needy in return for doing chores in the building region.
The shelter also offers a store called the Giving Tree for those in need, allowing them to pick out items they need for free. The shelter opens their kitchen to any community member who desires to prepare food for the needy.
Eliza Olson, a member of the community, is a big contributor to the homeless shelter, who commits over 10 times a month to serve at Daybreak.
“I contribute at Daybreak by making sure they get a hot breakfast,” Olson said. “I also make sure they have blankets, sheets, towels, and coats in the winter, by bringing donations to the Giving Tree.”
She hopes to get the youth involved in the community.
“I want to get the younger generation to help out at the shelter, so they can experience homelessness,” Olson said.
Other churches in the area create programs to aid the homeless.
Community Christian Church in Plainfield off Rt. 59 organizes events throughout the year through a nonprofit program called Community 4:12. They unite people to restore the community with long-term commitments to meet immediate needs that contribute to poverty and inequity.
Loyd Bowman, leader of Community 4:12, guides the church in their events. He says their mission of benefiting the homeless is to help them back onto their feet and direct them towards bettering their futures.
“We try to connect the passion of the people of the church to the needs that they have,” said Loyd Bowman. “We look for opportunities to go in and root ourselves in the homeless communities, so we can help them work towards change.”
Community 4:12 believes building relationships with the homeless is a key factor in successfully guiding them.
“Really where our heart is at is building relationships with those people and mentor them in whatever is necessary to help them to find a way to change their situation over time.”
Teachers, staff, and students in Plainfield also work hard to organize events to help the community.
At South, programs like Cougar Needy Families benefits the homeless around the school. Student services organizes and finds the families to then help provide them with necessities, like clothes or backpacks.
During the holiday season, they organize a way for teachers and clubs to participate in their program. Student services writes down the items needed for the students on ornaments and hang them on a tree in their office.
“It’s my favorite thing to do every year. It makes me very proud of my school. I love when the students want to help,” said Secretary of Student Services, Mary Mendoza.
PSLC (Plainfield South Leadership Corps) has also come together this month to give to those who need it. They raised money to buy materials to make fleece blankets to donate.
NHS (National Honors Society) has organized a coat drive to give to a church that will be locating the coats to those in need.
Tyler Purdy, sophomore at South, commits to helping the homeless community on his individual time by also serving at Day Break.
“I have helped prepare and serve breakfast once with my family at Day Break,” Purdy said. “It’s made me realize how thankful I am for what I have and aspired me to help others more.”
Many take a step today to recognize poverty and try to help improve the future.

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