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St. Bernard Hospital adopts 55 families for Christmas

The Christian values of giving and compassion are put into action at St. Bernard Hospital where their Adopt-A-Family program, now in its 20th year, provides baskets of food and toys for area families. Each department of the Hospital, along with some private donors, adopts one or more families in need and contributes to Christmas baskets for their selected families. This year the staff provided baskets for 55 families.

The Hospital’s Englewood neighborhood has one of the highest rates of poverty in Chicago. There are many parents who are unable to provide basic necessities for their families. Retiring Community Relations Committee Chair, Barbara Young, who has directed the program for more than 17 years, says she does it because “I like giving and I think this is a great opportunity to help the community.” Ms. Young and her community relations team, working with area churches, community and social service agencies gathers lists of families in need of support during the holidays. “Today with the economy and the hardships facing families it is important that we try to do something to help.” she says. And they do help.

Each of St. Bernard’s departments selects one or more families from the list and the employees place boxes in their respective areas in which to contribute donations. Although the program is completely voluntary, the vast majority of the Catholic Hospital’s employees choose to participate. The baskets are prepared with consideration for the number of family members, their ages and genders. Employees enjoy buying toys and clothes for the children, as well as providing something special for the adults. Typically, the baskets are stocked with enough groceries for Christmas dinner and a few weeks afterward.

Some donors are quite charitable. For more than ten years, Drs. Carolyn and Henry Wiggins, both radiologists, have been providing a turkey for each of the families. Dr. Henry Wiggins, a member of the board of trustees of St. Bernard Hospital and his wife, who practices at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, say they are happy to be able to provide for those in need. In addition to the Adopt-A-Family program, the couple gives generously to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “We believe that no one should go hungry.” says Dr. Henry Wiggins.

The recipient households range from one to as many as ten people, but there is no limit on family size. All the baskets are usually distributed on one day – this year on December 18th. The families are invited to St. Bernard to pick up their blessings and are frequently surprised at how much they are to receive. There are many grateful smiles and appreciative thanks, quite a number of people, both adoptees and St. Bernard employees find themselves in happy tears.

Even receiving their gifts can present difficulties for some of the families. One mother who said that she and her family are living in a homeless shelter had no means of transporting all that she was given. However, the employees have become accustomed to assisting with such situations and were prepared. The few families without transportation were sent home in taxi cabs that were paid by staff. Seniors were provided home delivery of their baskets.

During the past 20 years the program has grown substantially from serving a few families to its current demands. For 2013, organizations with families in need or individuals may submit their requests at in the info box or mail a letter in care of Community Relations.

Keywords: Christmas, Community Involvement, Communtiy Development, donations, food, health, Healthy Eating in Englewood, news, public affairs

Posted in Neighborhood News, Business News, Community Organizations, Health, Social Services, Faith

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