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In charity work, Maddie leads the way

DeenBess Sherman

Deena Bess Sherman

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Updated: January 1, 2013 6:11AM

I love meeting young people who were raised not only to practice compassion, but can pair it with the self-confidence and ambition necessary to make good things happen for those less fortunate. Madeline Bozik is a 13-year-old 8th grader at Herget Middle School in Aurora. This will be her fourth year collecting warm clothing for other area chidren.

In 2009 Maddie noticed there were a lot of food drives this time of year to make sure everyone had enough to eat. “I thought staying warm was just as important as having food,” said Maddie, “but I didn’t hear as much about that.” So Maddie went to her neighbors and friends and collected 200 pieces of winter clothing. She then took it to area schools like Schneider and Goodwin, plus the Warehouse Church in downtown Aurora.

She called her quest to see everyone bundled up for winter “Maddie’s Mitten March.” Last year she collected 300 items by going door to door plus having a collection box at Raimondo’s Pizza & Pub in North Aurora.

She has also partnered with Arch Printing in Aurora and Marberry Cleaners of North Aurora. “Some of the donated coats couldn’t be washed in the machine,” said her mother, Vickie. “Marberry Cleaners takes care of that part so all the coats are clean when people get them.”

On Sunday, Raimondo’s is sponsoring a fundraiser for Maddie’s Mitten March from 1-5 p.m. For a $15 donation you can enjoy a pizza and salad buffet with raffle prizes and some interesting entertainment.

Jim Jackson, a family friend, called Maddie and volunteered to shave his head and beard to help raise money. For an extra $5 donation you can write on his newly bald head with a Sharpie! Maddie’s father, Mark, will also be shaving his mustache. All proceeds go directly to Maddie’s Mitten March.

Maddie’s mom and dad have been very supportive of their daughter’s efforts and even filed paperwork to make Maddie’s Mitten March an official 501(c)3 charity, so donations are tax deductible. They were just beaming with pride when we all sat down to talk about Maddie’s project. They told me about some of Maddie’s other activities, including Girl Scout Troop 4195, walking with Team 129 in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, and completely shaving her head last year to donate 17 inches of braided hair to Locks of Love.

Then I understood why her father and a family friend had volunteered to shave heads and facial hair to raise money! They were impressed with Maddie’s earlier head shaving to help young cancer patients. “It was drastic,” Vickie said as she pulled up a picture on her phone of Maddie with a cleanshaven head.

“Maddie is always asking the question: what else can we do?” Vickie added, then told me a story of how her daughter wanted to help a young neighbor whose 8-year-old sister went to Johns Hopkins for hip surgery last Christmas. Maddie wanted to make sure he wasn’t forgotten at this difficult time with part of his family gone. So for 30 days, every night she took a little gift over to his house, rang the doorbell, and ran. She is a generous and gentle soul.

I asked what items they are hoping to see donated and they told me any type of new or gently used outerwear — coats, hats, gloves, scarves.

They already have quite a few pairs of boots this year. Maddie also encouraged people to “like” her Maddie’s Mitten March Facebook page.

If you have questions about Maddie’s quest to keep everyone warm this winter, you can e-mail her at:

I hope you’ll stop by Raimondo’s (1033 Kilbery Lane) in North Aurora Sunday and meet this amazing young woman for yourself.

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