PEORIA, Ill. — What Valerie Norvell calls “not a big deal” turns out to be a big gesture for those in need.
About four to seven times a week, Norvell goes on what she calls “kindness missions,” which involves her collecting warm clothing and blankets and driving around Peoria looking for those in need of them, particularly those in the homeless community.
Norvell said part of the reason she feels compelled to continue these missions, that she formally started in 2011 when she lived in Florida, is because she’s walked a mile in their shoes herself.
“I’ve been down and out,” Norvell said. “I’ve had nothing and I know what it feels like to think you don’t have anybody that you can ask for help.”
Those on the receiving end of her kindness missions, such as Samuel Williams and Adam Harris, said Valerie’s dedication shows a type of devotion that is much needed today.
“I think it’s a blessing that she’s doing it,” Williams said. ” You know, she cares a lot about people and more people should do it.”
Harris, who’s been homeless for over a year, said Norvell’s actions show him there’s still good in the world.
“That shows a lot of love,” Harris said. “It makes me feel loved that there’s people out there donating and caring for the less fortunate.”
Norvell said she networks on her Facebook group “Sunshine Village” where people let her know if they have extra clothes. This also extends to body organs. She’s created a Facebook group called “Kidney4Marnie,” for her friend in need of a kidney donation.
“I just care about people and I think we all care about people,” Norvell said. “I just figured out a way where I can make a difference.”
Sunshine Village drop off boxes are located at Big Ray’s Express locations on Knoxville Ave and Western Ave in Peoria, and S Main St in East Peoria.