When Amanda Sabatino, owner of Trends, a designer consignment store in Oak Park at 810 North Blvd., was contacted last week by an insurance company seeking retailers who would donate summer clothes and toiletries to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, she jumped at the opportunity. 

But when the truck was full and Sabatino’s task complete, she didn’t want to stop there. 

“We were just asked to make a donation from the store, but then I realized that I know a lot more people who can give donations as well,” she said last Friday. “It was a domino effect from there.” 

Her store has since been inundated with bags of donated items since she decided to make Trends a drop-off center for a few days last week. Over the weekend, she dedicated 5 percent of the store’s sales to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 

Efforts like Sabatino’s were repeated countless times, most of them hidden from the public, across Oak Park and River Forest. In the hurricane’s aftermath, relief efforts in the area have been decentralized, impromptu, and largely private affairs.

Large chain retail stores have held relief efforts facilitated by corporate headquarters. DSW Shoe Warehouse, a national chain with a location in River Forest, donated $25,000 to relief efforts. 

And Fleet Feet, 102 N. Marion St., is conducting a shoe drive that has been replicated at dozens of the chain’s stores across the country. 

Cecilia Boyd, a store employee, said her location alone had collected nearly 170 pairs of donated shoes as of last weekend, with more arriving each day. 

“We’re sending the shoes out to our stores in San Antonio since we can’t send them directly to Houston,” Boyd said. “From there, we’ll figure out how to get them to the affected areas.” 

Other local relief efforts have been more personal. Felix Hammer, a second-grader at Holmes School, has a connection to Texas. His family moved from Houston to Oak Park last December, but his grandparents and most of his family still live in the area, said his mother, Vanessa Hammer. 

“Felix wanted to do something to help the hurricane and flood victims even though we are now 900 miles away,” Vanessa said. “He was afraid people from here might not be interested in helping, but his dad and I encouraged him to try and see what happens.” 

Felix setup a GoFundMe account last week with an initial goal of raising $500. In less than a day, his mother said, he’d met his goal and increased the mark to $1,000. As of Sept. 5, Felix has raised nearly $1,800. His mother said he plans to donate all of the money to the American Red Cross. To donate to Felix, visit https://www.gofundme.com/FelixHoustonHurricaneKidsFund. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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