WILMINGTON – Whether it's been the COVID-19 virus, the country's recession or the protests to racism, the United States certainly has some problems to fix. On top of that, there's always been a lack of regard for the homeless, the veterans and just people in need.
Two Wilmington High School seniors – best friends and members of the varsity field hockey team – want to make sure that they can do their part to help jump start these serious issues.
Through their service learning class at the high school, Ida Bishop and Zoe DeRose have joined up with the Wish Project in North Chelmsford to help those in need. The two have organized their own Winter Clothing Drive, which began on Monday, November 23rd and will go until Monday, December 7th.
"Our plan is to do a winter clothing drive and collect anything from coats, hats, gloves, sweatshirts and basically anything to keep people warm this winter," said DeRose before the Wildcats took on Melrose on Saturday in the season finale. "It's just a good way to give back this time of year, especially with everything going on. This is the least that we could do.
“A lot of people have told us that they are in, that they will clean out their closets. That's just awesome to hear to know that everyone is in this together and so many people want to give back."
The girls have been best friends since they can remember – as far back as kindergarten or first grade. They are both three sport athletes with field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse.
In the past they have done a number of community projects and volunteered their time to help feed the homeless at the Methodist Church or at the Soup Kitchen in Lowell, as well as helping out at a number of other events or organizations.
"I can't live without her," joked Bishop.
While their hearts are big for one another, the two close friends want to make sure the people of Chelmsford and the surrounding towns have enough and the necessary attire as the cold winter months come upon us.
"I think it's awesome what we are doing," said Bishop. "We are making sure that everyone stays warm during the winter. It's sad to think that there are people out there who don't have coats or jackets to keep them warm. I'm hoping that we can make a big difference. I know through our social media pages, it's going everywhere and has blown up a bit."
The Wish Project is a non-profit organization which is located in North Chelmsford on 166 Middlesex Street. In 2019, the Wish Project collected 600 tons of goods to over 60,000 clients, as well as recycling 100 tons of goods.
With partner agencies, the Wish Project also provides people with furniture, household goods, baby items and of course clothing.
DeRose said that they chose the Wish Project after being part of an earlier volunteer event organized by the girls hockey team.
"We made that connection because the organization stands for what we believe in and we know the Wish Project will do what's right with the items," said DeRose. "We contacted (Projects Manager), Lori (Yutzey), and she said she would love to have donations. Anyone in need can just go there and get whatever they need. They also have silverware and house items – anything to help get you back on your feet."
The two girls explained that a lot of time and energy was put into this event and they are just happy to contribute.
"All of the work that goes into something like this and all of the minor details have to perfect, so it feels really good for the two of us to actually do something on our own," said DeRose. "Usually we volunteer for something but here, we're actually doing it by ourselves."
Added Bishop, "I've done a lot of community service throughout my time in high school and this is by far the biggest thing I have done. I never actually organized anything before and now I'm making these boxes. It's cool to make the boxes and the posters and fliers for it."
The girls will be collecting winter clothing items from November 23rd to December 7th. The items include: coats/sweatshirts/hats/gloves/snow pants/snow boots, etc., and they are asking for the items to be new or lightly used. The items are for all genders and sizes – for men, women and children.
There will be three drop-off locations: Shea Concrete in Wilmington (773 Salem Street), also in their location in Amesbury (87 Haverhill Road). The donation box will be in the lobby of both sites. As of Saturday, the girls were finalizing details to have another drop-off box at the Dance Company in Wilmington (909 Main Street).
If you can't make it any of the drop-off locations, Ida and Zoe will come to your place of residence to pick up the items. You can contact them at 603-508-8397 or 781-825-5186.