Maddie's Mitten March

‘Maddie’s Mitten March’: How You Can Help a West Aurora Student Provide Winter Clothing for Community

  • Editor’s Note: Every so often during the holiday season, we hear inspiring stories about young people, about community, about efforts to help people who are less fortunate. Thanks to Ellen Kamps of the Regional Office of Education for sharing this one. Please click on the links, share this post with friends and scroll down for more information on Maddie’s Mitten March holiday fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 15.

“My name is Maddie and I started Maddie’s Mitten March to provide winter clothing for people that can’t provide it for themselves. To continue operating out of my bus, I need to raise enough money to paint it (IL law)! Please eat at Raimondo’s this Sunday to help our community prepare for winter with mittens, coats and boots! THANK YOU!”

For seven years now, 16-year-old Maddie Bozik has been collecting and distributing winter clothing to underprivileged individuals through her nonprofit Maddie’s Mitten March. By collaborating with United Way of Fox Valley to School District 129, Maddie has been able to provide hundreds of outerwear items through the donations of clothing and finances.

Maddie with United Way

Maddie Bozik collecting donations at Fox Valley United Way in Aurora.

“Because of the support of generous individuals, other nonprofits and local businesses, I’m able to provide essential winter clothing for Kane County,” Maddie Bozik explained. “Marberry Cleaners, for instance, has cleaned every single coat for the past seven years at no charge. I’m as grateful to them as I am to those who donate.”

And those who donate have been wonderful.

One North Aurora couple spent their summer stopping at garage sales when they saw winter coats. In August, they delivered three boxes of children’s snow boots, scarves, hats and gloves to Maddie’s Mitten March.

“They also donated three of the biggest bags of coats you could imagine,” Bozik said. “The best part is knowing how excited these kids are going to be when they see these gently used items.”

Maddie's Mitten March refurbishing school bus

Community members shop through Maddie’s Mitten March school bus

It wasn’t until last year, however, that something significant changed on how Maddie connected with the needy individuals: She went mobile.

In November 2014, Bozik and her family purchased a school bus from St. Charles School District with the goal of converting it to a mobile clothing store. Only a month later, that goal became a reality when Maddie’s Mitten March school bus took its maiden voyage on Dec. 7, 2014. With clean floors, seats removed, and clothing racks installed, Maddie’s Mitten March was ready to collect more donations from generous community members and hit the road.

Maddie's Mitten March

One of the first stops for Maddie’s Mitten March school bus in 2015.

“Things have been rapidly progressing since I got the bus,” Bozik said. “I’ve been able to partner with a lot more organizations like the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, North Aurora Mother’s Club and Aurora University.”

Just this year, Bozik was selected as the Regional Winner of the 2015 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship program and received $1,000 to use toward her education. Her nonprofit was also the recipient of $1,000 from the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley towards the upkeep of the bus.

Maddie's Mitten March

With 2016 a few months away, Maddie’s Mitten March faces a new challenge, and it is not just the cold weather.

“When a school bus is taken out of commission and repurposed, the state of Illinois requires the color of the bus to be changed from yellow,” Bozik explained. “If I’m not able to paint the bus, the State could refuse to renew my plates and it would leave those in need without a coat or boots.”

Raimondo's Pizza To combat the costs of repainting the outside of the bus, Maddie’s Mitten March will be holding a fundraiser from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 at Raimondo’s Pizza and Pub in North Aurora.

“It’s an all you can eat salad and pizza buffet for $15” Bozik said. “If you haven’t tried Raimondos pizza, it’ll change your life. Best pizza ever!”

For those that cannot make it to the event, Maddie’s Mitten March has set up a GoFundMe page. As the recipient of a partial challenge grant from the Kane County Grand Victoria Riverboat fund, she must raise $3,582 in order to receive the riverboat grant of $1,111.00

“If you are able to make it to the fundraising event at Raimondo’s, just a reminder that we’re collecting gently used winter gear.” noted Bozik. “Everything counts.”

About the Kane County Regional Office of Education

Led by Regional Superintendent of Schools Patricia Dal Santo, The Kane County ROE is located in Geneva  and serves nine school districts. From teacher licensure assistance to professional development, the ROE’s mission is to advocate for education, provide leadership and perform regulatory functions. Learn more about the ROE’s offerings on Facebook, Twitter and by signing up for the semimonthly newsletter.

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