School kids need help getting basics

SHARE School kids need help getting basics
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Employees at General Growth Management, 110 North Wacker Drive, with some of the 500 hundreds donated coats and other gifts for New Sullivan Elementary School on “letters to Santa” Monday, December 5, 2011. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

Many of the kids at New Sullivan Elementary School on the South Side have confided to Valerie LaMonica, the school’s social worker, that they aren’t expecting anything for Christmas.

And some are just hoping for new socks, or a coat – maybe something for Mom.

“They are very needy kids,” LaMonica said. “It’s a rough area. A lot of our kids come from single-parent homes. We have a lot of kids who are homeless.”

Well, the folks at General Growth Management have made sure those needy children at New Sullivan will each receive a Christmas gift, thanks to the company’s participation in the Chicago Sun-Times’ annual “Season of Sharing” program.

In less than an hour earlier this year, General Growth employees snapped up all of the letters to Santa from kids at New Sullivan, said David Keating, a company spokesman.

“I had one little girl say, ‘Dear Santa, I’ve been a good little girl. I would like a doll or a shirt or a jacket,’ ” explained Kathy Stover, a human resources manager at General Growth. “And she said, ‘Thank you for spending your money on me. If it’s too expensive for you, I understand.’ It just broke my heart.”

Not only are the folks at General Growth, 110 N. Wacker, answering letters to Santa, but the company is also donating new coats to every child at the school – about 500 in all, Keating said.

For that, the school’s staff is also grateful.

“A lot of our kids are in need of really basic items,” LaMonica said. “Generally, our teachers are the ones who have to shell out for that. Every teacher I know has spent their money on things like socks, clean underwear and school supplies.”

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