The exterior of the Grand Ballroom, 6351 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in Woodlawn. Credit: Google Maps

WOODLAWN — A Woodlawn-based artist is organizing a coat and blanket drive to give warm winter items to Chicagoans in need in the new year.

The LVMB Collective‘s winter wear drive runs through Dec. 31. Donors can drop off clean, new or gently used coats and blankets at the Grand Ballroom, 6351 S. Cottage Grove Ave. in Woodlawn, or at Josephine’s Southern Cooking, 436 E. 79th St. in Chatham.

Donations are accepted 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday at Josephine’s and after 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Grand Ballroom.

The drive is about “giving Chicago my flowers,” LVMB Collective CEO Weléla Mar Kindred said. “Chicago has always housed me, fed me and loved on me, so this is just my little way of saying thank you to the people in the city of Chicago.”

The donated items will be given away at Josephine’s in January at a date to be determined, and they will be available to anyone who needs them, Kindred said.

Kindred partnered with Grand Ballroom co-owner Mike Smith and Josephine’s co-owner Victor Love on the drive. They’re good friends and advocates for community-supported initiatives, she said.

Kindred is a Los Angeles-born artist and dancer who has studied with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Joel Hall Dancers. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 2000s with classmates local artist Damon Lamar Reed and “Native Son” director Rashid Johnson, she said.

LVMB Collective CEO Weléla Mar Kindred. Credit: Provided

“It was just a great time — poetry, ‘Love Jones,’ that whole era of neo soul, it was an interesting time in the city,” Kindred said. “For that many Black students to be in a prestigious art school at once was kind of a huge deal.”

Kindred moved back to Chicago in 2020 to make her home in Woodlawn. She has since directed the play “The Elastic Mind” at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Lincoln Park, and she opened an art series this month at the new Gallery LKC in Ashburn.

The LVMB Collective doesn’t have a physical presence in Chicago, though Kindred is pursuing an arts and culture project through the Greater Chatham Initiative, she said.

“This is a city that I love because it has a strong African-American presence, it has a strong middle class, and it has such potential with development right now — especially in real estate, the arts and business,” she said.