It promises to be a good New Year for hundreds of Palatine area families, thanks to a grass-roots organization called Palatine Assisting Through Hope, or PATH.
The group's Annual Day of Giving, which took place in late November in a donated storefront in Palatine, drew 970 people in need of winter clothing and outerwear for children. What they found was a 7,500-square-foot space filled to capacity with donated clothes, coats and jackets, as well as toys and bikes.
"The numbers have grown so much since we started doing this, that it's crazy," said Rich Tyack, who co-founded the organization in 2006 with Debbie Rohrwasser and Andy Konopka of Palatine.
Their original mission -- to help Palatine area families in crisis -- still drives them.
Just last week, they alerted their network of supporters that a single-parent family with four children was in danger of losing their apartment. Before long, enough donations came in to keep the family in their home through February. PATH volunteers also put them in touch with financial counselors and job placement specialists to help them get back on their feet.
"As an organization, we're still committed to taking care of crisis situations," Tyack said.
Their one-day event of providing clothes and outerwear continues to grow. So much so that they now have outside organizations, such as the Palatine Police Department, St. Theresa's Church, Prince of Peace Church, to name just a few, holding coat drives for them.
They also have drawn even more volunteers who want to help. Teens from Palatine, Fremd and St. Viator high schools provide manpower, along with volunteers from Prince of Peace Church, the Buehler YMCA and the Palatine Park District.
"It's all just word-of-mouth," Tyack said. "People just want to help out."
With increased donations, more volunteers and a growing number of families in need of provisions, the organization outgrew its former space at Sanborn Elementary School in Palatine, where they sorted through donations before moving to the Palatine Opportunity Center for the distribution day.
This year, they instead gathered in a storefront space at Park Place Shopping Center, located near Rand and Dundee roads, donated for the week by owner Joseph Sweeney.
"It was hugely successful. Having the larger space helped," Rohrwasser said, "Everyone walked away with a coat, which is saying something. In some years, we've run out."