Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Student athletes organize clothing drive to support unhoused people, migrant children

Joyce Li/The Daily Northwestern
The Evanston campus Women’s Center is one of seven drop-off locations for the clothing drive.

In the fall, two Northwestern student athletes separately proposed projects aiming to collect clothing for both migrant children at Chicago Public Schools and Evanston’s unhoused population. 

Their efforts led to a co-sponsored clothing drive hosted by NU Athletics supporting Connections for the Homeless and Cradles to Crayons Chicago, which will be accepting donations through Wednesday. 

SESP senior Hannah Johnson, a midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team, said though she didn’t feel like she could change policies and laws contributing to Chicago’s migrant crisis, she wanted to do what she could to help those in need.

“It’s a great privilege to be here at Northwestern and to be an athlete,” she said. “To be able to take advantage of the resources and platform that we do have to create awareness for a specific cause is something I thought was valid.” 

Unbeknownst to Johnson, softball infielder and Communication sophomore Kansas Robinson had also proposed the idea. Robinson envisioned a clothing drive for unhoused people as part of her project for the Engaged Athlete Fellowship, a program organized by The Team and the Bridge Alliance Education Fund to foster civic engagement among student athletes. 

Robinson said giving back to local communities is a habit for her. 

“Growing up, for Christmas Eve, (my family) would go to the homeless shelter and hand out food,” she said. “It’s just been something built into me.” 

Both students brought their ideas to Rebekah Sigman, the assistant director of community relations at NU Athletics, who decided to combine them.

Sigman recommended partnering with Connections for the Homeless, an Evanston-based organization that provides essential services for people facing homelessness and housing insecurity in the northern Chicago-area suburbs. NU Athletics has been working closely with Connections for the Homeless for about a year, according to Elle Ullum, Connections’ director of community engagement.  

Connections was recognized at one of the first “Together We Win” men’s basketball games in February 2023, according to Sigman. NU Athletics staff helped Connections organize its clothing storage area at the department’s annual Community Outreach Day in June, Ullum said.

For those looking to contribute, Sigman said organizers prefer winter clothes for children and athletic wear for adults.

“We’re really looking for everyday wear,” Ullum said. “Sweatpants, long sleeve T-shirts, tennis shoes, boots, new underwear, gloves, scarves, hats — pretty much anything you’re wearing this time of year.” 

All adult clothing will be donated to Connections, while Cradles to Crayons will receive all children’s clothing. Sigman said NU Athletics does not have a direct partnership with Cradles to Crayons Chicago, but that it donates clothing to migrant children. 

Cradles to Crayons provides essential items to unhoused or low-income children from birth through age 12, including the children of migrants and asylum seekers who have been arriving in Chicago since August 2022, according to their website.

On-campus donation sites include the Women’s Center, Arthur Andersen Hall, Searle Hall and the Walter Athletics Center. Donations can also be dropped off at Wednesday’s women’s basketball game against the University of Iowa at Welsh-Ryan Arena, which marks the end of the clothing drive. 

Organizers said they’re happy to see full bins every time they visit the locations during regular pickups. 

“It takes a village to do all of that,” Sigman said. 

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