Just this week, Br. John Eustice, CSV, and Mr. Bart Hisgen, director of Saint Viator’s Christian service and outreach office, delivered presents and gift cards to the Howard Area Community Center in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, as part of the Season of Giving campaign.
All of the gifts will be distributed to children served by the community center, today.
This was the 29th year that Saint Viator families have supported the center, whose mission is to empower families and individuals.
By its own description, the Community Center’s mission is to empower families and individuals in one of the most racially, ethnically and economically integrated communities in Chicago. Its families are often under-employed, underserved medically and confronted by gang violence.
“According to the Howard Area statistics, it was our most successful drive to date,” Mr. Hisgen says. “With the generous support of students, teachers, Saint Viator families and alums, we sponsored 86 families with nearly 300 gifts and raised $2,700 in gift cards.”
The Season of Giving came on the heels of another successful holiday drive, this one named for Hall of Fame Chicago Bear—and former Saint Viator parent—Walter Payton. His son, Jarrett, graduated from Saint Viator in 1999 and he continues to be an ambassador for the school.
For the last 11 years, Saint Viator students have sponsored the Walter and Connie Payton Holiday Toy Drive. This year, Tony Valentino ’17, Anthony Maraviglia ’18, Emma Abrahamian ’19 and Tara Valentino ’20 led drive as class leaders.
Their encouragement in getting their classmates and their families to donate toys for girls and boys of all ages was successful. During the first three weeks of November, they filled 17 huge boxes with toys, and in addition two basketball sets and five bikes.
For the record, the sophomore class won the in-school challenge by filling the most boxes and consequently they earned a dress-down day.
“For eight of the last 10 years, Saint Viator has placed first in a friendly competition between area high schools to see which one collected the most boxes of toys,” says Mrs. Cathy Abrahamian, who again helped coordinate the drive.
In all, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation provides toys for nearly 20,000 children each year. They are distributed through the Department of Children and Family Services, to children in the city and the suburbs.
The foundation’s stated mission is to take an active role in helping those less fortunate find stability while providing positive opportunities needed to live their lives with dignity and pride.
“Saint Viator students’ generosity,” Mrs. Abrahamian says, “will be a blessing to many children during this holy season.”