A New Eastside charity is born

On Monday December 12, the recently formed neighborhood organization New Eastside for Charity will host a Winter Drive happy hour event from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at The Chandler, 450 E. Waterside Dr. Volunteers will be accepting hats, scarves and underwear to be distributed to the local homeless population later this month. All neighbors are welcome.

Sonia Koht, a co-founder of the organization and care bag distributor, says, “Most of the recipients will be male,” and asks donors to favor men’s sizes large and extra large.

Koht is a mother, grandmother and board member at the Chandler who decided to act on her compassion for the homeless in January by creating the New Eastside for Charity with help from two neighbors, real estate agent Ginger Menne and lawyer Sujata Dayal.

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Volunteers pack care bags for New Eastside for Charity’s summer drive, which generated enough donations to fill 150 bags with essential items such as toiletries, bottled water, protein bars for the homeless population.

This past summer, the charity hosted a Care Bag Drive at Lake Shore East Park. Equipped with tables, snacks and wine from Mariano’s, the event generated enough donations to fill 150 individual backpacks with personal items like toiletries, protein bars and bottled water, which were then distributed to the people living on the streets beneath New Eastside.

“The idea was to bring awareness to the neighborhood of all the people who live in our area that are in need,” she explains. “We all live pretty well here and I thought, you know, why can’t we help the less fortunate in the New Eastside.”

For Koht, the community-wide initiative is a follow-up to her personal efforts, which include “carrying peanut butter bars and water and offering them to the people I see every day on Wacker Dr. and Michigan Ave.”

When she told her friend Ginger Menne about her concern for the unsheltered, she made a soulful and instantaneous connection with Menne on the topic.

“It was January and Sonia was talking about these homeless people on Lower Wacker,” Menne remembers. “That’s where we came up with, you know what, these people live in our neighborhood, too. We as residents have an obligation to help out the less fortunate.”

After noticing the November New Eastside News’ story about the Chicago Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, Koht launched an effort to expand the effectiveness of the organization’s efforts.

Those who wish to donate but are unable to attend the happy hour — as well as anyone interested in volunteering for the charity — should contact or deliver donations to Sonia Koht at The Chandler, 450 E. Waterside Dr.

www.facebook.com/NewEastsideforCharity

— Daniel Patton

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