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State Honoree

Jason Blau

Illinois

organized a community-wide sports uniform and equipment drive to benefit needy children and their families at the Chicago Commons’ Taylor House. While volunteering at the Taylor House Head Start project, Jason noticed that most of the young students there had no more than two changes of clothing. “It was really my dresser drawer that gave me the idea,” says Jason. “I had seven full sets of uniforms.” In addition, Taylor House had almost no sports equipment and nothing for children to play with during recess. “It seemed silly that the children and their families who go to Taylor House shouldn’t have enough clothing while our community had such an excess.” Jason contacted the police department, the local baseball commission office, scout leaders, business people and every principal in his school district, explaining the project and asking for assistance. Volunteers from his Boy Scout troop helped label and distribute collection boxes at school sites. A series of articles placed in school and community newspapers, flyers, advertisements, phone calls plus all the hours of hard work paid off. More than 3,500 uniforms, 50 large boxes of sports equipment and 200 first-aid kits were collected for distribution to needy families in Chicago’s inner city. Jason hopes to make his sports uniform and equipment drive an annual event in Deerfield. “It doesn¹t matter if people compliment your efforts. What really makes you feel good inside is seeing the beneficiaries of your efforts enjoying themselves,” said Jason.