Chicago teens, nuns bundle Easter baskets for homeless children

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Bringing generations together, Mother McAuley students and Mercy Circle residents bundled Easter baskets for 50 homeless children. (WLS)

Bringing generations together, Chicago students, nuns and seniors bundled Easter baskets for 50 homeless children Tuesday afternoon.

They chatted as they filled baskets with treats, sparkling pencils, and even toothbrushes to ward off the dentist.

The assembly line of good deeds will benefit Margaret's Village, which includes Maria and Believe shelters. This kind of aid can ensure an important sense of normalcy for homeless children.

"People like to think of children as resilient. But children are really sponges. They soak up all the energy, all the pain... We don't want the children to have a horrible image of this period in their lives when they were homeless," explained Margaret's Village Executive Director Angela Hicks.

She relies on outside support for gifts, like those bundled today, for the nearly 200 homeless children her shelters serve each year.

"Unfortunately candy and an Easter basket is a luxury for us because we're trying to make sure we have enough money to keep the lights on, to keep the heat going, to have food for the shelter," Hicks said.

Alderman Matt O'Shea (19th Ward) saw this as an opportunity to give back and also unite his Southwest Side community.

"I think it's really important for the young ladies from Mother McAuley to learn about giving back and helping those in need," O'Shea remarked.

And students gladly seized the opportunity.

"I just want to see the smile on their faces. It just makes me happy and I know they're happy," 9th grader Carolina Duenas said, with a smile, of course.

This is an important effort, but merely a beginning. According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, there were more than 18,000 students without a permanent home in Chicago Public Schools during the 2015-2016 school year. But this new annual initiative is working to change that.

"To be able to do this and join them and be joyful with them is kind of wonderful," added one sister.

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