Danica Ward, 10, mobilized hurricane relief efforts near Joliet. She brought her donations to Joliet City Hall on Thursday.
By John Ferak (Patch Staff) - Updated September 9, 2017 11:00 am ET
JOLIET, IL - A large Hurricane Harvey donation brought to Joliet's City Hall by a small child from Crest Hill has garnered lots of appreciation from city officials. On Thursday afternoon, 10-year-old Danica Ward got a ride to downtown Joliet from her parents. At the Des Plaines Street parking lot, Danica brought Joliet city officials two vehicles stocked with donations to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Joliet partnered with Cadence Premier Logistics to collect the donated goods. The Joliet trucking company plans to deliver the goods to the Southwest in the coming days.
Danica's mother stressed it was strictly her 10-year-0ld daughter's idea to organize a donation drive.
"She actually had tears in her eyes," her mother told Patch. "She said, 'Momma, I want to help those people.' She opened the laptop and started typing a flyer for donations. It was two pages long."
Ultimately, the Wards reached out to the City of Joliet, which provided the family with the city's donation flyer. "We sent out the flyer and posted it on our Facebook pages that our daughter would love to collect donations with her wagon."
This past week, Danica went door to door around her neighborhood in Crest Hill to pick up donations. In addition, numerous friends and relatives gave Danica cash donations, which she used at the local Target and Walgreens to buy several boxes of diapers, bottled water, baby wipes and cleaning supplies. (For more information on this and other neighborhood stories, subscribe to Patch to receive daily newsletters and breaking news alerts.)
On Thursday, Danica's parents Jeff and Jenni Ward drove her to downtown Joliet, filling two of their vehicles with supplies and goods their 10-year-old daughter collected.
All told, the Wards said, they delivered around $650 worth of goods for Joliet's relief effort. At the time of their arrival, interim city manager Marty Shanahan was one of several city employees loading donations.
"He told her it's amazing what a difference one little girl could do," Jenni Ward told Patch. "After they unloaded both vehicles they gave her a round of applause and told her that's the most they've seen dropped off by one family, let alone by the efforts of one person. My husband and I both had tears in our eyes and were so proud of her. "
But that's not the end of this uplifting story.
On Friday afternoon, Shanahan reached out to the Ward family. He sent them an e-mail mentioning how he had met with Rocky Caylor, CEO of Cadence Premier Logistics, the Joliet trucking company off Laraway Road that donated the semitrailers for the Hurricane Harvey relief. "He would like to invite her to his facility ... so Danica can see first-hand the donation efforts and personally thank her," Shanahan wrote.
Her mother remarked, "We're definitely going to go, and she's excited about that."
Actually, when Danica found out about the upcoming tour of Cadence Logistics, she told her mother they now need to go buy some Dunkin' Donuts gift cards for the truck drivers.
"She said they'll need coffee to stay awake since they'll be driving all the way to Texas," Jenni Ward said. "Oh, my gosh, this girl."
Images via Jenni Ward, Danica's mother