By TONIA HILL
The Chicago Child Care Society (CCCS) is seeking donations for its holiday gift drive. The organization, which was established over 100 years ago, will be collecting $25 gift cards to give to the families that they serve.
Anyone who is interested in giving a cash donation or gift card can do so by dropping it off in person at CCCS, 5467 S. University Ave., or mailing it to CCCS by Sunday, Dec. 10.
Deb Schlies, chief development officer at CCCS, said the organization currently works with 700 families in south side neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Englewood, Washington Park, Greater Grand Crossing, South Shore, Roseland and as far south as Calumet City, Ill.
“[We have]… families that we are working with and [we are] trying to provide some sort of holiday gift from the agency and the community,” Schlies said. “That’s why we’re collecting these gift cards.”
This is the first year that CCCS will distribute gift cards for the holiday season. Typically, the organization collects toys for the holidays.
“It seemed to be more generous to give the families [gift cards],” Schlies said. “The whole family can use the gift card for whatever it is they need for their the holiday.”
As gift cards come in, CCCS will begin distributing them to the families they serve. Schlies said they want to ensure that there is enough time for families to go out and make purchases, whether it be food or gifts, in time for the holidays.
Chicago Child Care Society, which was founded in 1849 originally as an orphanage during a cholera outbreak, now provides support to teens who are pregnant or parenting or need college guidance or mentoring, families of infants and toddlers who receive home visits, and extended family support for those who take on primary care of grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other family members.
The fastest growing program at CCCS is its teen mentoring program, Schlies said. CCCS is one of many Chicago organizations that are a part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s mentoring initiative.
Last year, Emanuel announced his plans for the teen mentoring initiative to invest $36 million in public and private funds over three years to expand mentoring programs to serve at-risk youth across the city.
CCCS provides services through an Extended Family Support Program and two teen parenting initiatives, Beyond Parenting and the Next Step Program, which meets the needs of pregnant / parenting high school students at Robeson and Simpson high schools.
Additionally, CCCS provides “college preparation programs for teens in about nine high schools we have a specific curriculum they go from eighth grade all the way through graduation,” Schlies said.
For more information about the holiday gift drive call 773-643-0542.