Spartan Spotlight: Chelsea Chandler, Sophomore Special Education Major

Chelsea Chandler displaying the items she donated to Hesed House

Chandler displays some of the 700 items she donated to Hesed House in December 2012.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, Chelsea Chandler, AU ’15, was one of more than 150 students, faculty and staff who took part in the second annual Sleep Out on the Quad event at Aurora University. Participants bundled up for a full night of student-organized activities aimed at raising awareness for homelessness in the Aurora area. For Chandler, this event changed her life and motivated her to further help the homeless in the Aurora community.

“While sleeping on the hard cold ground probably sounds miserable, it was a good kind of miserable,” explains Chandler. “I was able to reflect on how good my life is, and I wanted to share that with people who don’t have what I have.”

Following Sleep Out on the Quad, Chandler took action, determined to help those less fortunate. She coordinated with the Oswegoland Park District’s Kid’s Connection and put together a Holiday Wish List for the Hesed House, an Aurora shelter that is on a mission to feed the hungry, provide clothing to those in need, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again. The local center serves approximately 1,000 individuals every year.

Chandler began by putting collection bins at every elementary school in the Oswego school district and also received donations from her family, friends and classmates at AU. By the middle of December, Chandler had collected more than 700 charitable items that she donated to the Hesed House.

“I am so proud of everyone in my life for stepping up and making a difference with me,” says Chandler.

She gives a lot of the recognition to her parents who she says have always encouraged her to help her community. After Sleep Out on the Quad, Chandler knew this was her calling and is confident that this isn’t the last that Hesed House will hear from her. She plans on hosting a benefit for local shelter to continue to aid the fight to end homelessness.

“She has taken her experience from Sleep Out on the Quad to heart and has done some amazing work with Hesed House,” comments Kris Johnson, Director of Student Leadership. “She is definitely a go-getter.”

Chandler will be sharing her story with the AU community at the Wackerlin Center on Tuesday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m. during its “Serve, Lead, Believe” series. She will be talking about her work with Hesed House and her plans to further assist the area’s homeless population.

“This experience has completely changed my life,” says Chandler. “My goal is to help put Hesed House out of business, by helping end homelessness.”

For more information on the “Serve, Lead, Believe” series or other upcoming events at the Wackerlin Center, visit aurora.edu/student-life/wackerlin.