6 | April 12, 2018 | The Homer Horizon NEWS homerhorizon.com Homer library a collection site for stuffed animals for nonprofit Eagle Scout hopes to accumulate 800 donations for children in hospital Thomas Czaja, Editor Patrons visiting Homer Township Public Library may notice something new greeting them when they walk in this month: a stuffed bear. The bear is part of a display and collection bin for the Eagle Scout project of Homer Glen resident Alex Woracheck, 14, who is an eighth-grader at Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School in Orland Hills. Woracheck, who is part of Boy Scout Troop 318 out of Orland Park, decided he wanted to help hospitalized children for his project. As a result, he has set up drop boxes at a number of locations, including the local library, for visitors to donate stuffed animals that are new. The collection will run throughout April, and he will then help deliver them to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago. He is doing the project for Comfort Fur Kids, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by Caley Trepac, who was diagnosed with chiari malformation, syringomyelia and scoliosis and had brain decompression surgery, according to the Comfort Fur Kids website. The website said she held onto her stuffed animal during severe headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, numbness in her hands and face and weakness in her legs and wanted other children to have a furry friend, as well, during the difficult moments while hospitalized. “The organization works with children having surgeries,” Woracheck explained. “It helps comfort them. My brother went through surgeries when he was really little, and getting a stuffed animal, he was comforted and excited, even when he went through a lot of pain.” The inspiration from his younger brother, Justin, who now attends Hadley Middle School, and wanting to help other children going through a tough time, made the choice for his project an easy one. Besides having a collection site at Homer library, located at 14320 W. 151st St. in Homer Glen, other drop-off sites are Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School, 9250 W. 167th St. in Orland Hills; the Orland Bob Spychalski BROKER •CustomizedMarketingCampaign •Freeprofessional&dronephotography •Strongonline&socialmediaexposure •5starZillowagent •FrankfortResident 630.728.8490 BOB SPYCHALSKI ILC 8509 0318 Park Public Library, 14921 S. Ravinia Ave. in Orland Park; The Music Connection at its locations, 10751 165 St. in Orland Park and 9370 W. Laraway Road in Frankfort; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 15050 Wolf Road in Orland Park; and BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy at its locations, 11411 W. 183rd St. in Orland Park and 600 N. Commons Drive, Suite 102, in Aurora. Woracheck’s initial goal was to collect 500 or more stuffed animals, but he has decided to push that goal even higher. “My first estimate was 500, but then I raised it up to 800,” he said. “Anything lower or higher than that is good, but my final estimate right now is 800.” He said the collection is going well and anticipates it will pick up more as people hear about the different donation sites. His mother, Jennifer, said she is excited for him and thinks it is a great collection that is different from the typical Eagle Scout project and allows the community to give back to others. “Alex knows it’s not easy for children to be in the hospital, and that they don’t completely understand what is going on with their bodies at the time,” she said. “We want to bring that comfort to the children.” She added that Comfort Fur Kids splits the stuffed animals into two different categories — one for infants and toddlers with stuffed animals that don’t have anything part of them that could potentially be a choking hazard, and then all other stuffed animals for older children. Jennifer noted Trepac was older when she had one of her surgeries, and that she feels all children and teens up to 18 — and someone at any age — could find a simple joy and comfort provided by A stuffed bear greets patrons at the front of the Homer Township Public Library on top of the collection bin Alex Woracheck put there. Mary Compton/22nd Century Media a stuffed animal. Sheree Kozel-La Ha, executive director of the Homer Township Public Library, said Alex reached out to her about the project. She invited him to stop by and said she and the rest of library staff were excited and happy to support him toward his philanthropic goal. “I was impressed with him,” Kozel-La Ha said. “I think it is really a characterbuilding thing. I personally believe that any type of project that touches so many young lives is worthwhile. “It is worthwhile to get sick kids something that could bring them some type of comfort.” The chance to give back is likewise a great opportunity to those who frequent the library, the executive director said. She has seen families come in and teach their children to be part of something bigger than themselves. Consequently, a child will come in and donate a stuffed animal or two for another child in need. Homer Glen resident and Boy Scout Troop 318 member Alex Woracheck currently is collecting stuffed animals throughout April for his Eagle Scout project for Comfort Fur Kids, a nonprofit that gives the toys to hospitalized children. One of his collection sites is the Homer Township Public Library. Photo submitted Seniors have also come by and love to give, according to Kozel-La Ha. They will mention they have several stuffed animals at home that they may have received as a present and are still in pristine condition and bring them in to donate. Ultimately, any age can and does give with a sense of enjoyment and pride in the kind act. “For a community thing like this, an Eagle Scout project, everyone wants to help Alex achieve his goal,” Kozel-La Ha said. Alex and Troop 318 have been and will continue to come in every other day during the month in their Boy Scout uniforms in a collaborative effort to collect donations that gradually are given. They had a lot to collect recently, as Homer Township Vision Center owner and Orland Park resident Jeanine Reding stopped by with a few dozen stuffed animals to contribute to the cause. The certified optician said she is trying to downsize at home and gathered the stuffed animals when hearing about the project. “I’m a give back person,” Reding said. “It always feels good when you change somebody’s day and help somebody out.” She also gave Alex credit and said she thinks he will be very successful in life. Alex, who spent his younger years in Cub Scout Pack 64 in Homer Glen/Lockport, is set to attend Lockport Township High School next school year. “I think it’s excellent,” Reding said of Alex's project and his determination to give back. “You can never have too much to get people involved with.”
homerhorizon.com news the Homer Horizon | April 12, 2018 | 7 Homer Glen Village Board Officials approve two individuals to bring expertise to seats on committee Jewel employee, state champion junior high wrestling team get recognized Jessie Molloy Freelance Reporter During its March 28 regular meeting, the Homer Glen Village Board voted unanimously, minus Trustee Christina Neitzke-Troike, who was absent, to approve two new members to the Community & Economic Development Committee. Chris Plouzek and Mike Prodehl will take the seats on the committee vacated by Trustee Keith Gray upon his election to the Village Board, and longtime volunteer Bob Schmidt, who announced he would be stepping aside at the start of the year. Plouzek has lived in Homer Glen for 32 years, has experience in real estate, management and sales, as well as volunteered in the village for years. Prodehl has worked in real estate for 26 years and is currently the president/ CEO of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group. Both men recently expressed interest in joining the committee after attending meetings, and they believe their business backgrounds will bring valuable insight and experience to the committee. Pelican Harry’s gets approval for increase in outdoor seating The Village Board also took action to approve a special use permit for renovations of the outdoor seating area of Pelican Harry’s Bar & Grill. The plan, which was approved unanimously by the Plan Commission, increases the size of the outdoor seating patio and parking lot at Pelican Harry’s. The parking lot will gain an additional 14 parking spaces, and the requested expansion of the patio will extend it around the building’s northeast corner and out westward. In order to achieve this without eliminating existing parking or obstructing traffic, the plan also includes an expansion of the existing access drive along the southern boundary of the parking lot and the addition of a new access drive connecting two of the existing parking lots along the eastern boundary. The plan was approved unanimously by the board and praised by Trustee Brian Burian as a “great thing.” “It’s always good to see an existing business grow and continue to develop within the community,” he said. John LaRoy receives proclamation The Village Board and State Representative Jim Durkin recognized local Jewel-Osco employee John LaRoy with an official proclamation naming him “the hardest working man in Homer Glen.” LaRoy’s story went viral earlier this year after a Facebook post praised him for his constant hard work and positive attitude. The post triggered an outpouring of support and the creation of a GoFundMe page for LaRoy, who was recognized at a party in his honor at Jewel in February. At the meeting, LaRoy was presented with a copy of the official resolution, a plaque from the village and a framed copy of the story which ran about him in The Horizon. State champion Homer Jr. High wrestlers honored The Village Board also recognized the Homer Jr. High wrestling team who took home the state title last month. The Homer boys, under the direction of coach David Rush, placed first out of over 100 teams competing, and broke two state records for the fastest pin and the most points scored in a match. The competitors were each presented with a certificate of achievement by the board and posed for an official photo with their trophy. Trustee announces Arbor Day Big Tree contest Trustee Sharon Sweas announced that the Environment Committee is once again looking for nominees for its annual Arbor Day Big Tree contest. The search is looking for the biggest trees in Homer Glen. Residents who identify a tree they believe is big enough to be recognized can pick up nomination forms and contest regulations at the Village Hall at 14240 W. 151st St. and submit measurements and pictures of said trees by May 31. If any tree nominated is larger than those listed on the current Illinois Big Tree Register, the tree will be submitted for nomination.