by Mindy Kyle
WHAT STARTED AS A ONE-TIME BLANKET DRIVE IS NOW A LOCAL MOVEMENT INSPIRING OTHERS
NAPERVILLE–As the holidays approach, and a tumultuous year comes to an end with more uncertainty looming into 2021, more people than ever are finding themselves in need of assistance due to the health and economic impact of COVID-19. We are grateful for the many charities and programs that are stepping-up efforts to increase their giving during this time. However, there are plenty of individual residents that are interested in identifying and finding specific ways to help affected families in their communities. This is where neighborhood grassroots programs, like Naperville’s Wrapped in Love (WIL) organization, can step in and connect those who want to help with those who need it.
WIL began in December 2013 as just a one-time blanket drive for the Chicagoland homeless to be distributed on Christmas day, but because of that experience, WIL Founder, Susie Barrto, felt she was being called to help those in need all year round. “I had been a single mom for seven years and had just remarried,” says Susie. “My children were getting older and not needing me as much. I knew there were so many people that needed the “mothering” that I didn’t feel done wanting to give.”
She garnered 501c3 status for WIL and began to share her vision on her established Facebook page, making it clear if people dropped off their donations, she would personally transport them to where they were most needed. Susie keeps in contact with the local shelters as well as individual requests from the community for assistance. On any one day, there may be a call-out for a family whose home and possessions were lost in a fire, a single mom trying to make ends meet, or individuals losing their jobs and homes. The needs are posted on the Wrapped in Love Facebook site and answered by the giving circle of followers. “WIL was created to be a bridge between those in need and those that want to give,” says Susie. “There are over 4,000 people that follow our WIL page, and the generosity from people who want to be part of something good is overwhelming. Donations are made almost on a daily basis.” WIL also continues to care for those living in the streets, creating “loaded backpacks” filled with essential items and handing them out regularly throughout the year.
To join Wrapped in Love’s giving circle, be sure to follow them on Facebook and check the site often to see how you can help members of our community with their special needs. www.facebook.com/Wrapped-In-Love-WIL