Northwestern Memorial Hospital Donates 1500 Gifts to Jenner Academy of the Arts
For 25 years, Hospital has distributed coats, toys to local schoolchildren
Northwestern Memorial Hospital employees took time amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season last week to deliver coats, clothing items, and toys to 500 students at Jenner Academy of the Arts in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood. Decked out in glittering Santa hats, employees distributed the 1500 gifts donated by various hospital departments to children ages 4-14. This is the 25th year the hospital has sponsored the Adopt A School program, which provides students with back to school supplies in August as well as holiday gifts in December.
“In the preparation for this day and with the actual event, it presents a very clear example of how generous our employees are,” said Regina Puckett-Kent, Employee Programs manager. “And the look on those children’s faces when they receive their gifts—that stays with me the whole year.”
Individual departments spent weeks prior to the delivery day collecting coat, toy, and clothing donations. The Admitting and Registration department collected $1100 over the course of the last few months through bake sales and donation drawings, and bought backpacks for the younger children, which they filled with gloves, scarves, and school supplies.
Jessica Hirsch, who works in human resources, noted that this year especially employees involved their families in the gift giving process. “You can tell that some of the presents were wrapped by children, and lots of kids wrote cards to the child their parents adopted,” she said.
Angi Courtney is one of those parents. Courtney, who works in interventional radiology, adopted ten kids and worked with her daughter’s Brownies troop to collect gifts. “The girls paired up to buy coats, hats, and mittens for each of the children, and then we held a party the weekend before where we wrapped the gifts and the girls handwrote cards to each child,” said Courtney. “We also talked about how there are children right here in their own city who need their help, and how the girls were making someone’s Christmas very happy.”
The 30 employees who delivered the gifts last week spent four hours unloading the presents and organizing them by classroom in the school’s gymnasium. As each class arrived at the gym, Puckett-Kent led the group in applauding the students and wishing them Happy Holidays as they received their gifts.
Christina Silkaitis is a medical technician at the hospital. She found it exciting to be on hand to deliver gifts. “I wanted to give back, and this experience helps close the loop,” she said.
Silkaitis stressed the importance of donating coats in particular. “Kids are constantly growing, so they might have a coat from last year that no longer fits,” she said. “Plus in Chicago, having a coat is a basic necessity—like food and shelter.”
Courtney took several photos throughout the day. In the coming weeks she’ll host another gathering at her home for the Brownies troop, and present a slide show and summary of the day’s events.
“I’m just a mom who wanted to show these girls an example of good philanthropy,” she said. “This has been the best part of my whole Christmas this year.”