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Gurnee resident gears up with clothing drive for kids

Coordinator Christine Thompswith purple bags filled with warm clothing for students LyMagnet Grade School Waukegan. | Submitted photo

Coordinator Christine Thompson with the purple bags filled with warm clothing for students at Lyon Magnet Grade School in Waukegan. | Submitted photo

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Updated: November 5, 2013 6:30AM

Christine Thompson, an IT/computer tech at Lyon Magnet Grade School in Waukegan, is hoping to help at least 100 children have a warm and happy holiday season.

An employee of the school for nearly a decade, Thompson, of Gurnee, developed the Caring For Kids Clothing Drive three years ago after seeing children come to school lacking winter necessities — warm boots, coats, gloves, hats and even socks. “It breaks my heart,” she said. “I wanted to do something to help.”

The single mother and Warren High School graduate said she knew she couldn’t do it alone. Friends and family were enlisted to help and their generosity and support was astounding.

“I had a little idea to help a couple kids and it just snowballed,” said Thompson. “The response from everyone was just amazing.” That first year 120 students were helped.

With names provided by the school, sponsors were assigned needy students to outfit. “None of this would have happened without (the sponsors). They really took it up a level. When I’d ask for a hat and gloves, they gave that. Plus they gave boots, shoes, socks, underwear, (school) uniforms, sweat shirts and sweaters,” said Thompson.

Known at the school as “Miss T,” Thompson is hopeful to help at least 100 children this year. Following collections and sorting, the giveaways take place in the school gymnasium. This year, the first giveaway is to be held Nov. 25, and the other right before Christmas break. Recipients get a big purple bag filled with clothing.

Terri and David Tomasiewicz of Gurnee had sponsored a student in the past. Last year, Terri helped during the giveaway. The experience, she said, was overwhelming.

“I really saw that day the impact that one person can make,” she said, crediting her friend and former classmate Thompson, as well as the generous donors. “We sometimes take even the small things for granted. Even little items like socks — things that you assume all kids have already, you find there is a need for.”

Rhonda Simopoulis, librarian at Lyon Magnet School, works closely with Thompson and has been helping with the charity drive. “(Thompson) puts an amazing amount of her personal time into making this possible,” she said.

Simopoulis said the project has been an eye-opener for many. “This is such a good program and so necessary because we see the way many kids come to school in the winter. I’d like to keep helping put warm clothes into the closets of the kids who really need it.”

Brand new items are ideal, however Thompson said she will gratefully accept gently-used clothing in excellent condition. Monetary donations are also needed so clothing and boots can be purchased. Thompson said several stores have been generous in giving discounts.

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