Hope Chest continues to support local domestic violence shelter

Junior Board members reach out to LT students for more involvement


Hope Chest volunteer organizes clothing for the upcoming Spring collection (Kowalski/LION).

Evelyn Kowalski, Editor-in-Chief

Since 1994, The Hope Chest in La Grange has made it their mission to support women in the local domestic violence shelter, Pillars Community Health Constance Morris House. Through an emphasis on sustainability and good-quality fashion, The Hope Chest has raised over $1 million in cash for the Constance Morris House, and $170,000 so far in this fiscal year–exceeding their goals.

Located at 305 W. Hillgrove Avenue in La Grange, The Hope Chest is an upscale second-hand boutique that combines fashion with philanthropy. Not only does the shop donate cash, but they use their profits to shop directly for women entering the shelter, and provide other useful services. 

The Hope Chest currently has 12 volunteer senior board members, including community member and LT mom, Carrie Frech. She served as board president for three years, and her term ended in mid-March. 

“When clients come into the [Constance Morris House], they often arrive with just the clothes on their back,” Frech said. “We have a team of shoppers that will go to Walmart or Amazon to purchase the necessities for the clients and their children.”

The support also extends to women after exiting the shelter. If they leave and get some sort of housing, The Hope Chest will help with purchasing items such as towels, linens, mattresses, or even helping decorate the kids’ rooms. 

“Our mission is to support those survivors in any way we can,” Frech said.

With a larger social media presence this year, The Hope Chest’s junior board has increased its outreach to the LT students on Instagram, @hopechestjrboard. The junior board consists of all LT students, and offers a young form of outreach–with goals to connect to the student body. One way they have been involved directly with the school is in collaboration with LT’s Fashion Club by holding a shelter drive collecting hygiene product donations throughout the month of February. They collected around 200 donations according to McGinn. 

“Our main goal is to add some youth and a new type of shopping demographic to The Hope Chest,” junior board president Maeve McGinn ‘23 said. “Our Instagram advertises when our meetings are and also promotes the shop in general.”  

If someone wanted to join the junior board, they can just show up to meetings, McGinn said. Meetings typically involve sorting clothes and picking out the higher quality pieces from the donations to sell in the shop. People can donate by dropping off items such as accessories, new or lightly used shoes and quality clothing in the bins at the front of the store. There are also tax receipts next to the bins for write-offs. 

“I think our main issue right now is that we need more underclassmen,” McGinn said. “All of us are seniors, and we are having trouble getting younger people to join.” 

Volunteering in the shop can earn students service hours for the National Honor Society, and they need volunteers as of now, and throughout the end of the year, Frech said. She encourages students to volunteer not all at once, in order to accommodate everyone. 

The junior board plans to create more incentives to get the students involved, such as hosting a fashion show sometime in the spring. 

“Every time I come back from a meeting, I feel so good,” McGinn said. “Knowing what an impact it really has. I also love thrifting and being sustainable, and it is going to a really great cause. My goal is to get more young people involved.” 

Sally Kurfirst is a community member who has been involved in The Hope Chest since even before it opened, for almost 20 years. Now, she has been store manager for almost 10 years, and organizes volunteers, oversees donations, scheduling, and much more. 

“I really love our mission and knowing we’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Kurfirst said. “I also just love working with the customers, helping people find clothing and accessories for great prices, and working with all our wonderful volunteers and staff.” 

The Hope Chest has been exceedingly successful in reaching their donations goals recently, Frech said. Normally, they have a goal of donating $20,000 to $40,000 every other month, but they were able to donate $40,000 in the month of February alone. 

“My favorite thing is knowing we are doing something great,” Frech said. “It really all comes down to the donations we get. We couldn’t do it without the community’s help. Getting that message out to younger people and being a safe space is very important to us.”