Maine West's Balkan Club donations help women in crisis
Maine West High School junior Ksenia Peric is a leader in many ways at her school, and her latest leadership effort has led to support for victims in crisis through a partnership with the Cook County Sheriff's Department.
Ksenia started the Balkan Club shortly after the 2021-2022 school year started. Her family is originally from Serbia, so the club was created with a purpose to foster culture sharing, create bonds and provide an opportunity to meet new people. The club is open to anyone at the school and has approximately 22 members.
During the holiday season, Ksenia saw other clubs doing toy drives, fundraising for charities and donating time to organizations in need. She decided to start a drive for women in need and partnered with a family friend who works for the Cook County Sheriff's Department.
The Balkan Club put bins around the school to collect donations and advertised the effort across the school. She also started a GoFundMe drive that raised approximately $400. Thanks to the donations and money, hundreds of care packages were created with supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, bar and body soap, disposable menstrual products, diapers, wet wipes and other essential items.
"The Balkan Club members and our wonderful Balkan Club sponsor, Mrs. Kljajic, are all so thankful for the generous donations," Ksenia said. "We couldn't have done this without all of the wonderful people who contributed to this drive, and we couldn't be more grateful."
The donations were given to the Sheriff's Department, which will provide them to women in crisis that the Sheriff's Department comes in contact with through the investigators in the Cook County Sheriff's Police Special Victim Unit.
"Oftentimes, these people in crisis are victims of various crimes, including human trafficking and domestic violence," said Pamela Dukes, a Victim Support Services specialist.
"In addition, we are often connected with persons in crisis through our Missing Persons and Child Rescue Units, and all of these individuals are in crisis, displaced and are in need of basic needs/necessities like food and toiletries."
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