Chicago school staffer 'Ma' quietly helps keep kids clothed in winter: 'I was one of those kids'

Tanja Babich Image
Thursday, December 8, 2022
School worker 'Ma' quietly helps keep kids clothed in winter
When Miss Bradfield was asked whether she thinks of these children as her own, she was overcome with emotion.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A South Side academy has asked for the community's help to stock its "care closet" aimed at keeping students warm in the winter months.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Mays Academy embraces that philosophy. The school is engaged in educating and caring for its scholars. And this is especially true of one staff member whose love for these kids makes Chicago Proud.

Jacqueline Bradfield has been Mays Academy's security guard since 2014. Some of the staff call her "Ma" and it's not hard to see why.

"I'm looking to see how the kids are dressed? Are their noses running? Do they need gloves? Do they need hats? Do they have on socks?" Jacqueline Bradfield said.

Ms. Bradfield, as the kids call her, knows all 250 students who walk the halls at Mays. And she watches out for them, because she has walked in their shoes.

"I was one of those kids," she said. "My mother died when I was 10. My father died when I was 5."

Bradfield says she didn't have someone to make sure she had her cold weather gear in the wintertime. So, with the help of Mays' Community Closet, she won't let these kids go without.

"I wait until everything calms down, then I go get it for the child and take it to they classroom," she said.

When Miss Bradfield was asked whether she thinks of these children as her own, she was overcome with emotion.

"They are ALL mines," she said. "They all mines. That's what makes me gets up early in the morning. Just to come. They all mines. As God told Abraham, 'I make you a father of many nations.' He made me a mother of many kids."

It's a labor of love. And the most heartfelt expression of community.

You can help Miss Bradfield and the many dedicated staff members at Mays Academy to keep their students warm this winter by donating new cold-weather gear to their care closet. They are low on all supplies.

Mays Academy serves students in Pre-K through 8th grade. They ask for donations of new items.

Gear needed:

-Snow boots (sizes 4T (children) through Adult Men/Women Size 11)

-Adult sized winter coats (Medium through 2XL)

-Scarves (all sizes, children & adults)

-Gloves (all sizes, children & adults)

-Winter Hats (all sizes, children & adults)

Donations can be shipped directly to the school:

Mays Academy

6656 S. Normal Ave.

Chicago, IL 60621

Attn: Community Care Room

Donations can also be dropped-off in person, on school days, during regular hours: Monday through Friday between 7:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.