Driving goodwill in community


The Valentine's Day fundraiser put on by Joanie's Closet. This is one of the fundraisers to raise money for the foundation. The upcoming fundraiser is a winter coat drive to buy new coats for underprivileged familes

Parul Pari, Staff Writer

As they shiver in the frigid temperatures brought by the harsh Chicago winters, many families do not have the means to buy winter coats to protect themselves from freezing weather.

Joanie’s Closet is a foundation in Lake Zurich that helps provide basic resources that underprivileged students are not able to attain. The foundation is distributing new coats to families in need of assistance on November 10 and 11.  

The way that this works is that it is not necessarily a clothing drive because we buy all of the winter coats, hats, and gloves for any under-resourced student in District 95 and any of the family members that live in the same household,” Sally Kutsor, chairman of Joanie’s Closet, said.

Kutsor has been working with Joanie’s closet for the past four years and said the foundation has been donating brand new winter coats for the past 5 to 7 years.

“We work with a company called Operation Warm, and Operation Warm has a mission to provide brand new coats to those in need,” Kutsor said. “The reason behind a new coat over a used coat is because they are looking to improve self confidence, peer acceptance, and overall wellness of students.”

Last year was the foundation’s most successful year, and Joanie’s Closet was able to distribute 400 new winter coats to families in need. Through her work over the years, Kutsor has been surprised by the amount of time that individuals are willing to donate to a cause.

“People are incredibly generous with their time, ordering purchasing and packing all of the coats hats and glove., I mean, 400 orders is a lot of orders, so people give up a lot of their time to prepare that, so it is great to see how generous people in our community are with their time because time is a resource that we all need some more of, “ Kutsor said. “My own philosophy is that we are all better off when we give back, so I feel good when I give back and I know that the person on the receiving end feels good too, so spreading a little kindness and knowing that it will go a long way is beneficial to everyone who is involved.”

Claire Li, sophomore, has donated her time to volunteering at events throughout the Lake Zurich area, and sees the positive impacts from her service.

“I think helping in our community can help influence others on a larger scale to also donate and help. I think that starting small and making an impact in the community is the foundation to making a big impact on the world in the future,” Li said. “The most encouraging experience that has made me want to keep volunteering has been seeing the effects of it and how it has aided those who needed it.”

Kutsor emphasized that people can donate their time to help and also the people who need resources can reach out by asking for help.

“We understand that students achieve more in school if their basic needs are met, and we do offer many other resources to high school students who are under-resourced, like guidance counselors and social workers can help students needing food, school supplies, toiletries, or clothing, and we encourage students to stop in the counseling office for more information.”

The goodwill of people is spread through people in our community and around the entire world. According to Kutsor, people don’t realize that there is a great need in the Lake Zurich area and Joanie’s closet is a great way of putting in your donation to help close to home.

“We accept monetary donations [cash] to Joanie’s closet and that helps us fund our purchase of the new coats and we also put on a fundraiser in February, which is a parent child dance during Valentine’s Day, and it is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Kutsor said.