Little Things That Mean a Lot

Think that coat you donated to a charity wasn’t a big deal? Think again.

For most of us, a warm winter’s coat garners little more than a shrug when we throw it on–maybe a “I hope this is the right color” comment as we walk out the door. But for some, a new coat is a much-needed reminder that they are someone deserving of a basic necessity, and fashion is a nothing more than an afterthought.

Make It Better recently featured Lake County Haven, a transitional shelter for women, and its call for donations during the holiday season. The response included 30 new coats for the shelter’s clients, which executive director Laura Sabino said did more than just make a cold winter easier to bear.

“It’s not even just having the coat,” Sabino says. “These are women that generally feel pretty discarded, and when they see someone go out of their way to do something for them, they feel like they belong in this world.”

Some of the comments from shelter residents:

  • “Thank you very much for the warm winter jackets for my daughter and me.  It means so much to us that there are people out there who care about others.  We will wear our jackets all winter long.  I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your generosity.” -T&V
  • “Thank you volunteers!  It means so much to me to have this warm winter coat, especially during this cold weather when I’m walking outside.  I appreciate it so much.  I am so grateful for this opportunity.” -E
  • “Thank you so very much for the warm, new beautiful jacket.  Angels always appear when you least expect them.  I feel truly blessed this season.  Hope your holidays are blessed as well.” -P
  • “I am one of the ladies that received one of the coats that was donated.  I am very happy to have a coat.  Now I don’t have to worry about being cold when I go out looking for a job.  Thank you very much.  Yours truly, D.”
  • “Thanks so much for the winter coats.  It means a lot.  I was so cold and had to use many sweat shirts under a jacket.  I prayed.  You were my answer.  Thanks again.  S”
  • “I would like to send you my deepest appreciation for the opportunity to receive a brand new Land’s End coat.  I do know that this coat will carry me through many winters, and I do especially need it for this one.  You are a God-send and he will truly bless you for blessing us here.  With gratefulness and much thanks, A.”

And just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean the needs are–the most pressing of which remains monetary donations.

“We rely on individual donations to survive and we’ve been hit hard,” Sabino says. “We’ve almost always been full throughout our (17-year) history…however, a lot more people are becoming homeless due to a loss of income or foreclosure. It’s taking much longer for the women to get back on their feet than it used to,” she says, citing the crowded job market.

Speaking of jobs, Sabino says this is another large area of need for women who use the shelter’s services.

“Our women need jobs,” she says. “If any of your readers have connections at any businesses or knowledge of employment opportunities, please have them contact the shelter.”

Transportation services are also a welcome donation–Sabino says their current van service used to transport residents to counseling in North Chicago has become too costly, and they are hoping to line up a group of volunteers willing to donate this kind of assistance.

The recent closure of Libertyville’s health department office also means it’s harder for Lake County Haven clients to receive necessary health care.

“We need clinical volunteers,” Sabino says. “Many of our women struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, etc.  They need to see a psychiatrist regularly to monitor their medication.  The health department has recently shut down their Libertyville office, and there are long waits at the other offices.  We’d love to find one or more doctors willing to donate this service.   We also need therapists (LCSW, LCPC, PsyD or PhD) to volunteer 1 hour per week of clinical supervision to our interns.”

For more information about The Lake County Haven volunteer opportunities, please visit their website at or call 847-680-1703.