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Our View: Surplus gear

Updated: November 18, 2012 7:01AM



It is only right that when there is surplus equipment or gear, government should get rid of it one way or another. Some have auctions to dispose of such stuff. The state of Illinois is taking a different tack.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is dispersing boots, coats, sleeping bags and other warm-weather gear to help the state’s homeless stay warm during the upcoming winter. The state is donating the federal surplus supplies, valued at an estimated $1.1 million, through charities, homeless shelters, churches and other public service agencies.

While the state currently has more than 1,000 organizations participating in the surplus program, one group in Lake County— Emmanuel Faith Bible Christian Center in North Chicago — specifically requested the supplies.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than 15,000 Illinoisans are homeless. In Lake County, about 500 persons are estimated to be homeless on any given night. The state surplus program is especially for not-for-profit organizations dedicated to serving underserved populations.

The Illinois State Agency for Surplus Property redistributes, recycles or disposes of surplus state property and oversees the distribution of federal General Services Administration surplus property. Through the program, the state will donate more than 2,700 gently used cold-weather boots, as well as military boots, shoes, jackets, mittens, pants, overalls, thermal underwear, sleeping bags, storage bags and parka liners.

In fiscal year 2012, Illinois received and allocated more than $36.4 million in surplus federal agency equipment. Such items include furniture, vehicles, tools which make their way to police and fire departments, schools, townships, libraries, nonprofits and museums across the Land of Lincoln. This is mainly taxpayer-purchased equipment no longer needed by the federal government, but can still be used by eligible organizations and certain under-served small businesses.

While winter winds are the last thing on our minds in mid-October, state officials are planning to take care of homeless Illinoisans in frigid weather. That should warm all of us when the snow begins to fly.



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