Local Response to Hurricane Katrina

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Brooks blues benefit
The BRAVO Concert Art Series announces an Evening of Blues, featuring legendary blues artist B.B. King's daughter, Shirley King, along with special guest Michael Jones. Shirley King will be performing jazz and blues with her band to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Gary Fencik, Chicago Bears Pro-Bowler, will be at Brooks Auditorium at 7 p.m. before the concert for an autograph session. A raffle will be taking place at that same time for a Chicago Bears football signed by Fencik, with 100% of proceeds and donations going to the American Red Cross.  The event will take place at the Brooks Middle School Auditorium, Friday, Sept. 23, with the concert starting at 8 p.m. Single tickets are $10, with family tickets at $30. To reserve tickets, called 524-5621 or e-mail treynolds

Holmes School Comedy Relief Effort
Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School and PTO will be hosting the Chicago Comedy Relief Effort, a special event benefiting Hurricane Katrina victims, on Saturday, September 24, 2005.  The event will take place on the school grounds, 508 N. Kenilworth in Oak Park, and will go on all day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.  It will be a benefit concert featuring live music and local stand up comedians, alongside nationally known comedians Shay Shay of BET Comic View, Jay Deep of the movie Barber Shop, and Damon Williams of HBO and BET Comic View, with the concert beginning at noon.  Patrons are invited to bring picnic baskets, chairs, and blankets, as only some food and beverages will be sold by Holmes School PTO and Robinson's Ribs of Pak Park.  Price of admission is a relief item(s) from the following list: bottled water; new and gently used clothing for men, women, and children; new socks and undergarments; baby diapers and baby supplies; blankets and bedding; towels; cookware; toiletries; and school supplies.  Volunteers are needed to work with donations, packing, and organization; please call (708) 524-8648 to assist.  Mark your calendars for this great event!

Curves Fund-Raising Raffle
Curves International founders are setting up a disaster relief fund to assist Hurricane Katrina victims, and are personally matching any contribution made at local Curves.  Curves Oak Park and Elmwood Park owner, Dawn Head, is promoting this national Curves relief effort, and is raffling off four three-month free memberships at each location (8 total) to promote it locally.  The raffle is open to both existing members and newcomers, raffle tickets are $10 each, and the drawings will be held on Wednesday, September 28, at 5 p.m, at both the Oak Park and Elmwood Park Curves.  Call Oak Park Curves at 660-9220 or Elmwood Park Curves at 456-8400 for more information.

Blood Drive in Scoville Square
Mike and Sharon Lennox of Oak Park, along with Cornerstone-United Methodist Church, are sponsoring a blood drive and taking donations. The blood drive will take place in Scoville Square, 137 N. Oak Park Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. During that time, donations of money and specific items will be accepted. The following items will be accepted: new/like-new blankets, medical first aid kits, ice coolers, children's diapers, children's school supplies, adult diapers, female products, and airbeds.

PADS and Madden Mental Health house evacuees
West Suburban PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter), along with the local United Way, the villages of Oak Park and River Forest, and area service providers, have set up the John J. Madden Mental Health Center, 1200 S. First Ave., to provide temporary shelter for approximately 55-60 individuals and families. Volunteers are needed for staffing two pavilions that have been set up to accommodate the refugees, to work with Madden employees, and to act as general volunteers. PADS asks that you contact info

United Way sets up drop-off points
United Way of Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park has set up a drop-off location for donations of clothing, toiletries, towels, and bedding for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. All donations should be new or gently used, and can be dropped off at 809 S. Oak Park Avenue between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. All monetary donations should be clearly labeled for Hurricane Katrina relief and can be dropped off at their main location at 1042 Pleasant Street in Oak Park. More information is available at their website: www.unitedwayoprffp.org.

Wonder Works Toy Drive
Wonder Works Children's Museum is sponsoring a toy and book drive to help comfort the displaced children of Hurricane Katrina.  Donations should be new or gently used, clean, and workable: stuffed animals, toys, games, and books for all ages.  Donations can be dropped off at the following locations until the end of September: Wonder Works, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Senator Don Harmon's office, 6933 W. North Ave., Oak Park; Forest Park Village Hall, 517 Des Plaines Ave., Forest Park; Forest Park Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., Forest Park; and UPS Store, 7115 North Ave., Oak Park.  For more information, call Shira Belenke at (708)383-4815.

Irving Elementary School seeks to raise $1000
Irving Elementary School, on 1125 S. Cuyler Ave. in Oak Park, is seeking to raise $1000 to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Patrons are asked to come to the main office and ask for Debbie Cox.  Colorful evidence of the donation will then paper the walls of Irving, in the shapes of Mardi Gras masks ($1 donation) fleur de lis ($3), saxophones ($5), and crayfish ($10).  Donations will be accepted during school hours.

Project Backpack seeks school supplies
Project Backpack is a movement designed to assist children of Hurricane Katrina victims who are without school supplies for the coming year. Instructions are simple: purchase a backpack, label what age and gender the backpack is designated for, and pack it. Basic school supplies are welcomed, as are art supplies and books. For a complete list of what should and should not be included, view the essentials at their website, www.projectbackpack.org.

Debbie Borman is a local resident who is heading the Project Backpack movement within the community to help local evacuees. Three drop-off locations have been set up: 1) Sign Express, located at 900 S. Oak Park Avenue, accepting donations Mondays through Fridays; 2) Oak Park Vacuum, located at 132 S. Oak Park Avenue, accepting donations Mondays through Saturdays; 3) Oak Park Main Fire Station, located at 100 N. Euclid. For more information about Project Backpack, or how to help, contact Borman at 312/919-1799 or e-mail projectbackparkil

Community Bank donates space, time, money
Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest has provided its location at 809 S. Oak Park Ave. to be used as a drop-off location for donations to the United Way. Monetary donations, which can be dropped off at 1001 Lake Street in Oak Park or 7777 W. Lake Street in River Forest, will be placed in a special account for Hurricane Katrina victims, which will be supplemented by a Community Bank donation of $10,000. Community Bank will also match its employees' donations dollar for dollar, and employees will receive paid leave for volunteer efforts. Contact Kate Wenzel of United Way/Community Chest at 386-4885 or Ruth McLaren of Community Bank OPRF at 660-100 with questions, or contact the Hurricane Katrina voicemail at 660-7001.

Oak Park YMCA opens doors
Oak Park YMCA members and staff are working to set up relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims. Oak Park YMCA is opening 15 SRO rooms at no cost to male Hurricane victims, and offering free memberships and child care to families and children who have relocated to this area. The YMCA of the USA, the national YMCA organization, is raising money to assist YMCA staff and their families in the hurricane region, and the National Y Fund Inc. will match donations up to a certain amount. Money will address the operational needs of affected YMCAs, the communities, and the YMCA staff. For more information, contact the YMCA at 383-5200 or www.opymca.org.

Alcuin Montessori Students Take Steps
Alcuin Montessori students have worried about the children and families from the devastated Gulf Region.  They studied national and local relief efforts, and discussed how best to express to those children and families that they "were not forgotten," said Carol Per Lee, head of the school.  Alcuin students have gathered clothes and basic supplies, and will be walking to local donation agencies on Tuesday, September 20 to donate these supplies in person.  Per Lee and the Alcuin students are encouraging local relief efforts to continue, to show the Hurricane victims that they "are not forgotten."

Great Harvest bakes sweet support
Great Harvest Bread Company is making New Orleans King Cakes to sell for the relief effort. The cakes are brightly decorated sweet bread, selling at $10 each, and 100% of the proceeds will go to Hurricane Katrina Relief funds. Manager Cathy Yen sees this as a way to express what was fun and will be missed about New Orleans while being respectful. Order ahead by calling 848-5700, or simply pick one up at their location at 736 Lake St. in Oak Park.

Sign Express volunteers materials
Manager Bill David of Sign Express is donating free signs to organizations and businesses that are working to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Call 524-8811 for more information.

Volunteer Center calls for volunteers
The Volunteer Center, which serves as a clearinghouse for volunteer activities, is calling for volunteers to help Hurricane Katrina victims. There is a specific need for shelter-trained volunteers. Applications for volunteers are available at the Volunteer Center, 820 Ontario in Oak Park by calling 386-3393 or by e-mailing info

Dominican raises funds with student activities
Dominican University will be collecting donations for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts during any and all community events that are open to the public, as well as various internal events on campus. Interested community members can access event calendars at Dominican's website, www.dom.edu. The funds will be separated and sent to Catholic Charities USA.

Concordia welcomes relief victims as students
Concordia University is reaching out to students who are unable to attend their own college or university in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and who wish to take classes at Concordia. For guest students, costs and tuition relief will be based upon individual circumstances. Concordia students will help classmates whose belongings were destroyed by supplying clothing, personal items, and the other necessities of life that were abruptly taken away. Community members who are interested in finding out more may contact Matt Downs, assistant director of undergraduate admission, at 209-3102.

Animal Care League sends support
The Animal Care League is working with larger national animal care organizations to direct monetary donations where they are most needed. Because of the smaller size of their shelter, Oak Park cannot currently take on animal refugees; however, they are working with the Humane Society of the United States to support volunteers who are working in the South to transport and care for animals. Patrons looking to donate can receive information at www.animalcareleague.org  or call 848-8155.

Youth choirs offer support
Hurricane Katrina victims who are looking to join choirs for community and support are being offered free membership in the Schola Choir and Madrigal Choir at Grace Church for grades 2 through 8. For information, contact Alison Nelson, 366-7170. Madrigal Choir meets Sundays, also at Grace Church, for grades 9 through 12. For more information, contact Silvano Brugionio, 452-8019.

?#34;Compiled by Katherine Galo

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