The gift of giving: ASL winter clothing drive

Julianne Arnold, staff writer

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The holiday season is filled with charities, from acting as a child’s “Secret Santa” to donating money and food for people in need. Each year, drives are held, donations are collected and people are helped.

This year, the American Sign Language (ASL) Program at South sponsored a collection of donations of winter clothing for the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (CCAC), an organization committed to recognizing and responding to both  families and children who have suffered from sexual abuse, according to the CCAC’s official website.

The donations that were collected included new, gently used or homemade mittens, hats, scarves and sweatshirts for children ages five to 15. The donations, which went to the CCAC’s Winter Collection, provide sexually abused, homeless children with warm clothes for winter.

Senior Nikkole Gomez was the driving force in getting South involved in the clothing drive. She heard about it from a church, St. Francis Borgia, in Evanston. Father Joe, a priest at St. Francis Borgia, helps out with the drive every year.

“I think [Father Joe] is an amazing person; he’s really intelligent,” Gomez said. “And he does this every year […] He loves to help out the kids who are less fortunate than us.”

Gomez’s aunt, whose willingness to help out the charity partially provided Gomez with the inspiration to lend a hand herself, does too.

“Me and my aunt are willing to take anything that the kids [from the sign language classes and any other students who donate] have and drive it over to the church,” Gomez said. “Then [Father Joe] will distribute it.”

According to its website, the CCAC serves over 3,000 children each year.
Esmerelda Montes de Oca, a receptionist at the CCAC, feels the point of the organization is to lend a hand to the children that need support they cannot receive.

“We are the voice for the children,” Montes de Oca said.  “Not all children get that voice, especially with the cases we get here at the Center. That is our impact. The children are being heard, and they are getting the help they need.”

The South ASL program helped collect clothing through Dec. 7.
After the first several weeks, the drive had collected a couple bag’s worth of donations. According to Rosemarie Carsello, American Sign Language teacher, that was to be expected.

“I think there’s just a lot of collections going on, and charities and places to donate to this time of year, inside school, outside of school,” Carsello said. “But it can be anything little, like scarves or gloves and anything. Any little thing counts.”

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