Firebelly Foundation makes donating personal

December 14, 2009 (CHICAGO) It starts with a video that's posted online where Humboldt Park residents looking for help tell a little about themselves and describe what they need.

"My due date is October 1st, but I feel like I may have the baby sooner than that," said Shanta Brown. "I would be happy with anything you guys donate to me."

Not long after Brown applied for assistance, a visitor to the website,, donated money for baby supplies, which were delivered to the new mom's home.

"First and foremost I have to say thank you very much because without them I wouldn't really have (any) of this stuff," said Brown.

The delivery of the gifts is videotaped so donors can see the success story.

A group of parents at Ana Roqué De Duprey Elementary School, asked for school supplies for their children.

"Some of our parents are struggling financially with unemployment now and finances are very short. So the book bags will help them out," said Rosa Jesus.

The process is the brainchild of Dawn Hancock, owner of the Firebelly Design Firm and Foundation based in Humboldt Park.

"I wanted to start an organization that could actually help people in need and particularly my neighbors in Humboldt Park," said Hancock.

She says the video element was most important so donors could see and choose exactly who would benefit.

"People complain I don't know where my money goes when they give $50 to someone. This is one-on-one. 100% of your money goes directly to that family for that particular item that you picked out," said Hancock.

For some donors, choosing the recipient is less important than just knowing they are filling a need.

April Lopez owns the barista coffee house. She's holding a coat drive at her business to benefit families registered with reason to give.

"When I see that there are entire families without food or shelter, this is what I can do. I may not be able to shelter them and you know feed them, but I can give you a warm coat," said Lopez.

The Firebelly foundation has helped more than 120 families in the past two years through Reason to Give. In January, the group plans to adopt a Humboldt Park School.

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