Wilmette, Community

Wilmette steps up for arriving migrants, leading Village to expand donation drive

In response to overwhelming donations, the Village of Wilmette is streamlining a drive to assist migrants transported to the area.

The Village started an impromptu winter-clothing drive to support migrants by placing donation boxes inside the town’s Metra station, 722 Green Bay Road. It didn’t take long for community members to respond.

“The response was incredible,” Village Manager Mike Braiman said. “The station was filled wall to wall with donations within a couple of days.”

In a message to the community, the Village thanked community volunteers for organizing the donations and preparing them for two busloads of asylum seekers. The message also says excess donations were given to agencies charged with supporting migrants in Chicago.

Moving forward, the Village is asking residents to bring donations on Wednesdays only and is expanding the requested items to include hygiene products and school supplies.

Braiman said the Village hopes to keep significant donations on hand to support any migrants who arrive at Wilmette’s Metra station, while any donations in excess of that will be brought to Chicago.

The drop-off site remains the Metra station and will be available from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays, and the village is asking residents to organize all items into bags and label them according to their type, such as “Men’s XL coats” or “Children’s gloves,” it says in a village media release.

Aside from seasonally appropriate clothing, the drive is also collecting diapers, maxi pads, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, soap and deodorant.

An unscheduled bus of migrants arrives in Wilmette in January. | PHOTO SUBMITTED

On New Year’s Eve, two buses transporting migrants arrived at Wilmette’s CTA station where they were rerouted to Chicago. Since then, 11 migrant buses have arrived in Wilmette — nine of which dropped off passengers at the village’s Metra station. The other two deboarded at the CTA station before Wilmette police could arrive and redirect them to the Metra station.

Unlike its neighbors Winnetka, Highland Park and Glencoe, Wilmette has not introduced new policies to regulate unscheduled bus stops.

The Village is also asking residents to consider dropping off items at one of the partner organizations, such as Immanuel Luthern Church in Evanston.

To donate winter clothing and other items needed by migrants, donations will be accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Immanuel Lutheran, 616 Lake St., in Evanston.

The church is accepting new or gently used winter coats, hats, gloves, socks, new underwear, sports bras, long underwear, jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, snowpants, children’s gloves, full-size toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, deodorant, diapers and maxi pads.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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