Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – At the end of every school year, Dr. Carla Minutti, pediatric endocrinologist at Loyola University Health System, was surprised by the amount of school supplies her two children brought home. She hatched an idea that connected families at Lincoln Elementary School in River Forest with Loyola Medical Center doctors and students to provide the leftover supplies to children around the world.
"I travel to Mexico frequently," said the Minutti, a Mexico native. "Many Loyola medical students and pediatric residents who work with me also participate in Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine’s Ministry trips around the U.S. and the world. I thought we could collect the leftover supplies for children in need, and contacted the school to see if other parents would be interested," Minutti explained.
Her phone call to Lincoln Principal Pam Hyde in 2009 has grown into an ongoing parent-led effort by the school's Green4Good Committee, which fosters environmental responsibility in the school community. "It was so simple, and a perfect way to get the supplies into the hands of kids who need them while also cutting down on the amount being thrown away," noted Green4Good's Renee Sichlau, who has spearheaded the annual effort with fellow parent volunteer Laura Maychruk.
The school's PTO sells pre-packaged supplies at the beginning of each school year as a fundraiser and convenience for parents. While some items are saved and re-used by students, parents found that they had stockpiles of extra items that either cluttered closets and drawers or were thrown away.
"We send home a flyer that gives families the option to have their kids bring their supplies home or leave them at school to be donated," Sichlau said, adding that they collect approximately 20 large boxes of crayons, scissors, pencils and other supplies each year. Even broken crayons and near-empty glue sticks can be recycled, she explained. "Crayons can be melted down and reshaped for children with disabilities, and we send Elmer's glue stick containers back to the company for recycling."
Once the supplies are collected, Dr. Minutti, along with her children, friends and some of her Loyola colleagues, pick up the boxes for storage in her garage until the Ministry team makes its next delivery. Team members fill their suitcases and backpacks with as much as they can carry, and have delivered the supplies as near as the south side of Chicago to as far as a school in a tent in the desert of Morroco.
"While growing up in Mexico, I had the opportunity of realizing how privileged I was, and how many children live in dramatically different conditions than I did," Minutti recalled. "We hope to continue being able to do this for many years to come."
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Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.