PSI makes holiday baskets

Molly James, Freelance writer

Michelle Harbin, Peaceable Schools Initiative Club (PSI) advisor, has been making holiday baskets for the kids of the Off the Streets club since 2009. This year, she continues to make the baskets.

They are very thankful, fun to talk to, and really make the effort of making baskets worth every minute and every penny,” Harbin said. “It warms our hearts and energizes all of us,” 

PSI is filling holiday baskets for kids of the Off the Streets club, Chicago’s oldest boys and girls club. Baskets are being made from March 14 to April 11. 

Anyone can donate and bring supplies to make the baskets. The process to make the baskets takes about five weeks. First, fliers are sent out, along with announcements and all other communications. The location of collection spots for donation drop off are also made public. Donations are collected a month before the assembly of the baskets. The bins containing the donations are checked and collected daily. All of the materials then get stored. Money is also collected and any items not received through donation are purchased the weekend before the assembly of the baskets, Harbin said.

On assembly day, everyone works together to make as many baskets as possible. Baskets get lined up on tables in the cafeteria or in a conference room. The club members use an assembly line structure to fill the baskets. Some students fill plastic eggs with candy, while others fill baskets with fake grass. This process takes many hours. In years past, the club has made between 100-200 baskets. Last year, between the baskets and the goodie/gift bags, the cub donated about 300 items, Harbin said. 

“I think it is a really nice thing to do,” club member Samantha Loies ‘25 said. “It makes me feel good that I’m doing something nice for kids who need it. I feel like I’m doing something nice for the community instead of doing nothing at all.”

The baskets go to the kids who are a part of the Off the Streets club. The kids are members, so they can have a safe place to grow, learn, play and interact, Harbin said. 

“[The kids] have performed poems and songs when they come to pick up the baskets,” Harbin said. “These baskets are distributed at their annual Easter Holiday party. Thousands of kids are members of Off the Streets club, and they would not necessarily get such things if we didn’t contribute.” 

The kids of the Off the Streets club come to LT to pick up the baskets, Harbin said. 

“The coolest thing is when the Off the Streets Club members, who are the adults that run it and about six to eight kids, arrive at LT to pick up the baskets,” Harbin said. “They usually bring stickers or pins or buttons to give to PSI volunteers.”

The club meets throughout the school year. They plan events and have many other opportunities for volunteering. Also, they spread positivity, like when they placed sticky notes on lockers at SC with words of encouragement and positivity hand written on them, Loies said. 

“I like how everyone in the club is super engaged and is very positive,” Keira Slone ‘25 said. “The teachers give out snacks to us too and it just feels like a very welcoming club to everyone.”