River Grove students deliver gifts, holiday cheer to Hines VA hospital
Carrying boxes filled with gift bags, students wait Dec. 14 for a bus to take them to Hines VA Hospital to deliver 50 gifts and necessities to veterans. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:15PM
RIVER GROVE — A group of students at River Grove School went outside the classroom Friday to learn a different lesson.
Since Veteran’s Day, 10 eighth-grade students and several teachers have been collecting items to be given to veterans at the Hines VA Hospital, 5000 S. Fifth Ave., Maywood.
On Dec. 14, after loading about 55 Christmas-themed bags filled with gifts into cars, the students went to the hospital to pass them out to veterans.
Denise Nero, director of student services at the school, said every year students and staff always try to do something around Veteran’s Day for those who are and have served in the military. In the past, students have collected and sent items to soldiers stationed abroad.
“This year we did something different and partnered up with Hines VA Hospital,” she said.
The bags they gave out were filled with practical gifts that they could use right away, which came from a wish list the school received from the hospital. Several weeks prior to their visit, the eighth-grade students visited other classrooms in their school to encourage additional students to donate gifts from the list.
“Wish lists were requesting things like new socks, new gloves, toothpaste and a toothbrush,” she said. “When the guys first get there I know they like to get something that will make them feel at home.”
She added that the River Grove students also took time out to interact with the veterans as well.
“They (students) want to be big and get involved and do big kid stuff so it’s the perfect time,” she said. “Then they learn to love it.”