At its heart, it’s a “simple effort to spread light and love,” an organizer said.
But the Leave it for Love program, based in Homewood and Flossmoor, has had staying power. Now in its 15th February, the effort gathers items to be donated to the area’s older residents, many who don’t have many resources available.
Founder Jennifer Molski said they’re particularly looking for personal care items as well as those one would typically present as a gift to a teacher or hostess. Some suggested items include jewelry, makeup, perfume, warm-weather gear, trinkets and household decorations.
“A lot of these gifts go to recipients who have nothing, so a small tube of lipstick or hand lotion goes a long way,” she said.
Donors often bring in unused items given to them by a cherished friend or relative, Molski said, “for example, a never-worn scarf from a favorite aunt that was kept because of the special meaning.”
Molski said Leave it for Love is operated in conjunction with the Chicago chapter of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, which distributes the gifts. Formerly known as Little Brothers of the Poor, the not-for-profit group offers “programs and opportunities which alleviate isolation and loneliness.”
Locally, Molski said the program also has made small donations to the Jones Memorial Community Center in Chicago Heights.
In Homewood, donations can be dropped off at Loulou Belle, a 3-year-old shop offering an eclectic blend of new and vintage home decor, furniture, jewelry, and gifts, as well as hand-crafted items from local artisans and workshops. In Flossmoor items can be dropped off at the Coldwell Banker Real Estate office.
Lisa Komorowski, who operates the Loulou Belle stores in Homewood and Frankfort with Dodi Wians, said the program ties in with the store’s Valentine’s Day theme for February.
“Jennifer’s a great person,” Komorowski said. “We love working with her.”
Realtor Vicki Stevenson said the response at the Flossmoor Coldwell Banker office has been outstanding. “We’ve overflowed our box,” she said.
Stevenson, who heads her office’s charitable activities, said Leave it for Love fills a void by serving “a class of people who often get forgotten.”
Molski said the program “is going well, so far.”
Loulou Belle in Homewood is located at 2049 Ridge Road. Coldwell Banker’s Flossmoor office is on the corner of Flossmoor Road and Sterling Avenue.
Dennis Sullivan is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.