The Soapbox

Sleeping in a box:

About 27 students — some who have not known hunger themselves — now have an idea of what it’s like to be homeless. The group camped out for a night on the grounds of Oakton Community College in Des Plaines to raise awareness of the problem. Now they can turn that empathy into even more action.

Is this the answer?

We don’t have all the solutions to our economic woes, but is the seemingly never-ending expansion of gambling really the answer? This week, Addison joined a number of communities that have authorized video gambling in local businesses.

The village’s perspective:

The rationale for allowing video gambling is a little troubling: Everyone else is doing it. “By not allowing this amenity in Addison businesses, we may put them at a disadvantage in comparison to those in nearby towns,” Village President Larry Hartwig said in a newsletter.

Collaborating for success:

Elgin Community College and its feeder schools have made great strides in helping students complete more courses and finish their programs at ECC. The college was rewarded with the 2012 College Leader award, one of only 14 community colleges in the nation to receive it. It highlights what great partnerships can accomplish.

Heartwarming gifts:

Hats off to Round Lake Beach police for making a little boy’s dream come true. At 3½ years old, Mekhi Carter of Antioch Township is fascinated with cops. Village officials gave him a plaque recognizing him as a junior officer, and police offered him a specially made uniform. Officials worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Mekhi, who has a heart condition.

Dressed for success:

First Forbes reported the Blackhawks franchise ranks fourth among NHL valuations. Now a Sports Business Journal poll says the Hawks have the second-best uniform and logo (Yankees are No. 1 for both) and they are the top NHL team you’d want to work for. All great news, but what’s the point of looking good if you have no place to go?

An even better look:

Tony Medlin of the Bears, with help from Jewel/Osco, the Salvation Army, the Bears organization and many schools, still needs your help to meet his goal of collecting 30,000 new or gently used coats for needy families and individuals. The drive runs through Dec. 16, so there’s still time to donate and get that warm feeling when you drop it off.

Keep schools in session:

A couple of weeks ago the Geneva school board and the teachers union staved off a strike during eleventh-hour negotiations. Thursday night the respective parties in Community Unit District 300 reported significant progress in their talks. Teachers could walk on Tuesday, but it looks like that won’t happen. We hope it doesn’t.

An honor well deserved:

Clayton Muhammad of Aurora is the 2012 Roscoe Ebey Award recipient, the equivalent of Kane County’s citizen of the year. It’s an honor in memory of a local veteran who was killed in his home in 2007. Muhammad is the founder of “Boys II Men,” an organization that helps at-risk youths set goals, go to college and fulfill their dreams.

Tragically ironic:

Jack Douglas of Bartlett was a big believer in helping others, so it is sadly fitting that Jack’s last act on earth was to try to give aid to someone who had been hit by a car on I-57. In doing so, the 80-year-old was struck by another car and killed.

But some good news, too:

State transportation officials report that traffic deaths for the Thanksgiving weekend were down more than 60 percent over last year. Good driving conditions were credited, but they also said seat belt usage is at a record high in Illinois. Thankfully, some statistics are headed in the right direction.

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