A winter warm-up
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent January 3, 2013 1:20PM
Scarlett Jackson (right) hands William Gray a stocking cap and matching gloves during the recent Ladies of Faith and Hope event at the East Chicago (Ind.) Public Library on Dec. 20, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:16AM
Many East Chicago pre-schoolers are warmer this winter, thanks to a group of steel workers and their friends.
They call themselves Ladies of Faith and Hope, and recently delivered hats, scarves and gloves to youngsters at the East Chicago Public Library.
“Our mission is to help people as much as possible, a little at a time,” said leader Bobbie Johnson. “We consist of friends and co-workers of ArcelorMittal steel.”
One of Johnson’s co-workers collected coats a few years ago for the Carmelite Home. It was such a success that the women continued each year, adding other groups such as the Nazareth House and Sojourner Truth House. This year, they added the hats, scarves and gloves after finding there was a need.
Jo-Ann White, associate director of the library’s youth services, was contacted by the group, asking if the library could host the event. She agreed, and the ladies took over.
Donating their money and soliciting from co-workers and other friends, the women power-shopped to get the best deals.
“I always wanted to do something special for kids,” Johnson said. “We prepared to give hats and gloves to 40 children. With other donations from our co-workers at ArcelorMittal, friends and family, we helped 50 kids with this drive.
“We also are buying toys for the kids at the Nazareth House, and have helped several other children with coats, hats and gloves.”
The recipients included children from Lisa’s Safe Haven Daycare, Merchants of Hope Enrichment Academy, and Kinder Kare of East Chicago. White said these agencies visit the library regularly, and deserved the gifts.
Jordyn Readus, 4, chose brown-and-blue hat and gloves.
“This makes me feel very happy, ’cause I like to be warm,” Jordyn said. “Sometimes, we lose my gloves, so it’s important to have extras.”
Added group member Phyllis Raines: “In today’s economy, many families are going through tough times, even getting together the necessities. We want to make sure all of the kids will be warm this winter.”
Besides Johnson, the dedicated Ladies of Faith and Hope include Diane Douglas, Yolanda Relf, Suzanne Gultney, Phyllis Raines and Scarlett Jackson. They will continue their charity mission all year.
“No one has a position in this organization,” Johnson said. “We’re just good friends, trying to make a difference in this world ... a little at a time.”
After the students received their new gifts, carol singing and juice and cookies rounded out the party.
“I love my new purple mittens and scarf,” said Niyah Ayers, 4, as she tried them on. “It’s my favorite color, and it’s important to have them when it’s cold outside.”