ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Eagle Scout candidate Ted Spiro was looking for a project when his father, a chaplain at the Kane County Jail, mentioned that inmates released during the winter often do not have coats.
And so was born the “Second Chance Coat Drive.”
Ted Spiro, 14, a freshman at Geneva High School, made up 1,500 fliers and distributed them throughout the community, seeking donations of coats for inmates. He collected 313 coats.
“The flier listed a pick-up date and to leave a coat on the porch with the flier attached and we would pick it up,” he said. “Me and some other Scouts willing to help picked up the coats. A lot of houses gave more than one coat.”
Sheriff Pat Perez praised the teen’s generosity.
“I don’t know too many people who would pick that project,” Perez said. “If we have someone in our jail, upon release in the wintertime, they are turned out to the elements, cold. A lot of people say, ‘So what? If they’re in jail, so what?’ ... This kid is showing compassion for people who would be neglected by society, by people he is never ever going to meet. It was a very thoughtful act on his part.”
Perez said if inmates are released in the colder months and they don’t have a coat or anyone to bring a coat, the jail staff uses money from the inmate welfare fund.
“This was quite an undertaking for a young man,” Perez said. “... We are so used to seeing the worst in human behavior, so when you have something like that, it’s reassuring to guys like me that there are good people in the world.”
“I take my take hat off to his parents. They raised him with a sense of fairness and compassion.”
Ted said he expects to earn his Eagle Scout Badge this winter after he fulfills a few more required merit badges.