Keeping Kenosha warm for the winter

Third annual Warming Event runs through March; donations being accepted

By Daniel GaitanKENOSHA.COM

Gaitan is a proud Kenosha native who has covered his local community for much of his professional career. The DePaul University graduate served previously as an award-winning writer for the Kenosha News.

Nobody in Kenosha should be without hats, scarves and gloves this winter.

That’s the goal of Jennifer Dooley-Hogan, who is leading the third annual “Warming Event” across the city. The effort runs now through March.

There are currently four “Warming Chest” locations: ELCA Outreach Center, 6218 26th Ave; Common Grounds, 5159 6th Ave.; Herzing University, 5800 Seventh Ave.; and In the Garden of Eden, 711 57th St. 

There are currently four Warming Chest locations.

The chests are filled with free gently used or new gloves, hats, scarves, socks and hand warmers. Each item is placed in an individual plastic bag and marked with its size. Anyone in need of an item can pluck one out for free.

“It’s something beautiful for our city and shows how we take care of each other,” Dooley-Hogan said.

She emphasized that no one should feel ashamed or embarrassed for participating in the effort. Many visit the chests at night to avoid being seen. 

“Not everybody feels comfortable approaching the chests so you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for,” Dooley-Hogan said. “A lot of people come at night time to visit the chests and we refill them in the morning.”

Donations can be mailed or delivered to Dooley & Associates, 600 52nd St., Suite 200, during business hours. Dooley-Hogan said Kenoshans respond with compassion and generosity when called upon. 

“Even people who have moved out of Kenosha still send us supplies,” she said. “Our dream for the project is for there to be a warming chest in every neighborhood that needs one. I welcome any volunteers or members of the community interested in donating to contact me.”

Dooley-Hogan will also partner with Harborside Academy, 913 57th St., later this fall to get students involved in the effort. They will build and design their own chest and solicit donations.

“Being able to provide service and compassion for the community that you live in is really important,” said ninth grade English teacher Allison Johnson. “Being able to be a partner with this warming chest program that’s already established in the community and that we can help make better is amazing for our students.”

‘Warming Tree’ coming soon

A “Warming Tree” will be set up on the grounds of the Shalom Center, 4314 39th Ave., next week. The “Warming Tree” was moved there last year after the city unexpectedly denied use of a tree in Veterans Memorial Park in 2020.

Dustin Beth, Shalom’s director of development and community engagement, said the local nonprofit is more than happy to participate again. Gloves, scarves and hats will be adorned on a tree for easy picking. The move to the Shalom Center may have been for the best because of its proximity to nearby Bradford High School, 3700 Washington Rd.

“It’s something beautiful for our city and shows how we take care of each other.”

– Jennifer Dooley-Hogan on the third annual Warming Event

“We have a lot of walkers and foot traffic from Bradford High School,” Beth said. “It’s a hidden opportunity to serve. High schoolers sometimes get left behind. This is another extension of how the Shalom Center serves the community.”

Beth said many of their soup kitchen clients also rely on the tree. 

“A number of them walk up to the tree and use it,” he said. “We refill the tree once a day when we really get the arctic cold. There is no judgment and we’re here to serve. We have it in the front of our property so it’s accessible.”