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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

You Can Help Stock Far Northwest Side Treasure Boxes, Bringing Free Household Essentials To Neighbors In Need

The creator of the Treasure Box Project is looking for summer volunteers as a way to encourage neighbors to manage a box even if they don't have the space or time to commit year-round.

The Treasure Box Project added a new box in Gladstone Park at 5720 N. Mason Ave. that has toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dish soap and sanitizing wipes.
The Treasure Box Project
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PORTAGE PARK — A popular mutual aid effort based on the Far Northwest Side is looking for more volunteers who want to better their community.

The Treasure Box Projectcreated by Portage Park resident Jaclyn Crawford during the pandemic, is a series of boxes containing free donated essential household items like toilet paper, toiletries, feminine hygiene supplies and more.

Since launching last year, the project has added six Far Northwest Side boxes to help neighbors in need. Each box is managed by a family or resident, who is in charge of stocking, collecting donations and keeping it clean.

As a seventh box gets ready to launch in Gladstone Park later this week, Crawford is launching a summer initiative called Summer Stock the Box to empower neighbors to test-run what it’s like to volunteer but who may not have the time or space to commit year-round.

It will also support the hosts of each box, who restock them daily, Crawford said.

The Summer Stock the Box will help “get the community involved with the hosts — it’s our hosts that drive this and [they can] empower others,” Crawford said.

“This is a fun way to bring people together, donate, have the experience to put things in the treasure box … people can get the feel of what the project is all about and be part of the positive change.”

Jaclyn Crawford, founder of the Treasure Box Project, wants it to be a resource for the community that’s bigger than herself.

People can sign up online to manage any of the boxes in Portage Park, Gladstone Park, Avondale or suburban Norridge for one week. Volunteers are asked to generate essential household donations for the week based on what they think each box needs, as they vary depending on community needs.

Other items that could benefit neighbors like cards, drawings, and more are also welcome, Crawford said. Once people sign up, Crawford will connect them to the hosts of each box for their allotted week.

“I hope it’s a long-term partnership,” she said. “It’s not a hard thing to do. I started this project with a Tupperware container and it has evolved since.”

Crawford said she has has seen how much the project has helped neighbors of all kinds and encourages people to start their own boxes on their blocks. Those interested in starting one can learn how to do so online.

Although some sort of normalcy has returned to neighborhoods, Crawford wants to remind people that doesn’t mean the mutual aid effort is no longer needed. She still sees neighbors, particularly young mothers, retrieve essentials they need from the box in front of her home.

“These needs are still very real, whether we are in a pandemic or not,” she said.

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