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Winter Wear 2023

Photo credit: René White

Each year, The Reva and David Logan Foundation aims to help our elders, families, neighbors facing unstable housing, students in temporary living situations, refugees, and other vulnerable folks to survive the cold of the Chicago winter with dignity with our Winter Wear program. Through the program, we provide nonprofit organizations throughout Chicagoland with winter gear to distribute to their communities. This year, the total request from partnering organizations was double our allotted budget, demonstrating an overwhelming need for this program.

Spearheaded by Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott, the RDLF staff remains passionately committed to this program each year, devoting significant time to organizing orders and shipments with our wholesale vendor partner Dollar Days as well as volunteering at distribution events. The true stars of the show are our many partners, who cumulatively reach thousands of people in need in the Chicagoland area through their distributions. 

From the events that our staff were able to attend this year, it was clear that our partners deeply love and respect the communities they serve. Events were full of warmth and excitement, and several distributions were paired with free meals and fresh food to share together. Those at the distributions got to take their time perusing all of the winter gear (coats, boots, thermals, gloves, hats, scarves and more), making sure they had the right fit for what is sure to be another bone-chilling winter season.

Several smiling people in front of a colorful mural at a Taskforce Winter Wear distribution event.
Administrator Sabrina Boggs and Taskforce staff.
Three smiling women at a CHA Winter Wear distribution event.
CEO Tracy Scott of CHA, a CHA resident, and Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott.
Quick Facts:
  • Budget of $1.48 million
  • 59 unique organizations
  • 70 distribution locations
  • 47 communities reached in the North, West, Central, and South sides of Chicago, as well as surrounding suburbs
This map does not include sites in the South suburbs (Blue Island and Harvey), West suburbs, or North suburbs.

In the winter of 2017, RDLF provided funding for all 72 residents of North Side Housing and Supportive Services’ (NSHSS) emergency Uptown shelter, a grantee partner, to go shopping at a local store to try on and select their own pair of winter boots. 

In 2018, once Senior Program Officer Jessie Mott came on board, the RDLF began to devise a plan to scale up the winter weather offerings to include other grantee partners and products such as coats, hats, gloves, etc. Another partner of ours, Cradles to Crayons Chicago, introduced us to the wholesale vendors that provided their winter products. We researched them and sampled their warmest coats. 

We ultimately selected DollarDays as our vendor partner and have continued to work with them each year.

Since 2019, the RDLF has been designing and distributing survey “wish lists” to a growing list of partners that include current grantees, mutual aid groups, CPS schools, food pantries, and churches. 

With our growing team, the process has become more collaborative and refined. We are currently revising the survey to capture more of the information needed on the front end to allow for seamless accounting post-distribution. 

What was the catalyst for starting this program?

Jessie: It should go without saying that here we believe everyone deserves the right to be protected from the cold, have access to healthy food, and a safe place to live. While RDLF’s strategic grantmaking has its eye on systems change, we cannot ignore that thousands of our very own neighbors are unhoused, hungry, and struggling to stay warm during these brutal Chicago winters. The program began with a single grantee that operated a men’s shelter in Uptown, and now we have extended the program to the majority of our partners who work with unhoused children and adults as well as various other groups.

How has the need for this program evolved over the years?

Jessie: The need continues to grow exponentially. Of the 70,000 (conservatively speaking) unhoused people in Chicago coupled with the influx of recent migrants, we realize there is no way for us to solve the issue alone. We can, however, do our part by connecting with our trusted partners and their networks to reach some of the city’s most vulnerable people and provide them with brand new, attractive, warm clothing that don’t look like donations.

What are your goals for next year’s program?

Jessie: We hope to find other funders who can collaborate with us in the future, primarily through financial contribution, to expand the program. We have done extensive research and know how to reach some of the hardest to reach. With additional support, we can leverage our networks to provide warm clothing to thousands more. 

How can other people help?

Jessie: We’d love to talk to other foundation or corporations who’d like to learn more about our work and get involved. For instance, there could be opportunities to “sponsor” some of our winter program partners to ensure that their wish lists are fulfilled. We do our best to fulfill each order in its entirety, but unsurprisingly, the budget is exceeded very quickly.

From our Winter Wear 2023 partners: