Over 60 of the Joliet area unsheltered homeless came through the Joliet Public Library's Ottawa Street Branch to attend the Preparing for Winter: Survival Giveaway event on Thursday morning. The event offered several tables full of winter supplies donated from all corners of the community.
The Library hosted the event in partnership with the Consumer Committee of the Will County Continuum of Care, Will County Center for Community Concerns, Cornerstone Services, Holy Family Parish, Will County Community Development Division, the City of Joliet, United Way of Will County, Habitat for Humanity, the Veterans Assistance Commission, Catholic Charities, the Northern Illinois Food Bank, and the Joliet Police Department.
Megan Millen, Executive Director of the Joliet Public Library, was grateful to those who came together during this time.
"Being in the downtown area, the Joliet Public Library is uniquely positioned to be able to partner with other organizations to provide assistance to the unsheltered here in Joliet," said Millen. "Thanks to the generosity of the Joliet community, events like this are able to provide those winter essentials to the less fortunate residents of Will County."
Popular items were backpacks, hand warmers, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, blankets and even camping gear such as tents, batteries, tarps and sleeping bags. Also available were bags of food, bottles of water, and personal items. The Will County Center for Community Concerns was also available to offer assessment services for housing.
"The Will County Continuum of Care is committed to ending homelessness in our community," said WCCCC's Executive Director Kris White. "We here at Will County Center for Community Concerns have taken the lead in the outreach collaborative with many of our partners, including the Joliet Public Library and the Joliet Police Department, to connect with those experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the Joliet area. We also provide case management and housing navigation services to households who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless."
Staff from the Library, WCCCC, Will County, Catholic Charities, the Veterans Assistance Commission and Cornerstone Services, and members of the homeless community helped manage the event and ensured individuals received the specific supplies they needed.
Denise Zielinski, Community Engagement Officer at the Joliet Public Library, helped organize the event and suggested the library as the location.
"Today, I personally helped two gentlemen who came in for items. And like the Grinch from Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, my 'heart grew three sizes' today," said Zielinski. "What a wonderfully warm feeling to help others!"
The Joliet Public Library is committed to being a resource for patrons of the surrounding community to read, explore, ask and discover. For more information, visit http://jolietlibrary.org/ or call 815-740-2660. Library hours are Monday- Thursday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday –Saturday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 pm.