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Sixth graders, seniors make Easter baskets for homeless children

Sixth graders from Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park assemble Easter backpacks for homeless children during an event Thursday at Mercy Circle, a senior living community in the South Side. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

For many of the kids who come to Margaret’s Village on the South Side, Easter is just another day — not the sugar-saturated fantasy enjoyed by more fortunate children.

“I’ve got one family that just arrived with a domestic violence situation. They had the clothes on their backs; that’s all they had,” said Kathleen Ahler, the case manager at the village, a nonprofit that provides temporary housing for women, children and families.

On Thursday, a group of sixth graders from Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park teamed up with some residents at Mercy Circle, a senior living community on the South Side, to make sure the homeless children will have an Easter to remember.

“One, we get to help others, and two, we get out of doing math,” said Matthew Sears, 11, who wants to be a Boeing 747 pilot when he grows up.

Sears and his classmates filled brightly colored backpacks with candies, toys, toothpaste and socks among other things. Socks?

“I have little kids coming into my office with no socks and no slippers,” Ahler said.

Robin Creevy, the sixth graders’ teacher, said the lesson about the importance of giving is something that will likely stay with her kids.

“We always talk about how lucky they are to have a family, to have a great school to go to,” Creevy said. “They can take a snack when they want to. These kids don’t have that.”

For Mercy Circle resident Sister Jacquie Dewar, Thursday’s event was inspiring.

“It’s delightful to be around young people and see how good and generous they are,” said Dewar, 80. “It gives you hope for the future.”

Sixth graders from Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park assemble Easter backpacks for homeless children during an event Thursday at Mercy Circle, a senior living community in the South Side. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times
Sixth graders from Queen of Martyrs School in Evergreen Park assemble Easter backpacks for homeless children during an event Thursday at Mercy Circle, a senior living community in the South Side. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times