Ombudsman celebrates the holidays by giving back

Date: December 22, 2010

Students and staff at Ombudsman learning centers throughout the country are directing their holiday spirit toward serving others by contributing food, clothing and toys to their neighbors in need, raising money for children’s hospitals and sending handmade cards to U.S. military personnel who are serving overseas.

Ombudsman Educational Services partners with 120 school districts in nearly 20 states to help at-risk students graduate from high school. Students are provided opportunities for service learning so they can contribute to their communities while learning and performing important skills they will use in high school, college and the workplace.

Donation Drives

Students stuffing bags for Backpack Buddies

Students at the Gordon County center packing lunches for Backpack Buddies

Ombudsman students have donated more than 2,000 items for food pantries and other charities. In Gordon County, Calhoun and La Fayette, Ga., Ombudsman students collected food and filled more than 600 lunch bags for The Backpack Buddy Club, a non-profit that provides food during weekends to students whose weekday meals are provided by their schools.

The students also participated in Operation Christmas Child, filling 17 shoe boxes with small gifts and toiletries to send to disadvantaged children in other countries.

Recognizing that many people are in need of warm clothing, Ombudsman students in Mundelein, Ill., collected socks for a local mission and coats for the United Way, while students in the Naperville, Ill., center are donating socks to Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission.

Students in Aurora, Bloomingdale, Downers Grove, DeKalb, Dundee, Matteson, Naperville, N. Harlem, Proviso, Schaumburg, and Winnebago, Ill., and Potosi, Mo., collected food for several charities, including the People’s Resource Center, serving the DuPage County, Ill., and the Greater Chicagoland Food Depository, which operates the largest food pantry in the Chicago area.

Supporting our Troops

Ombudsman students in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois and North Carolina are thanking U.S. military personnel for their service to our country. Through “Operation Greeting,” they created and sent nearly 3,000 handmade greeting cards to service men and women who are unable to be with their families during the holidays.

Raising Funds to Fight Cancer

Students in the Crestwood, Ill., Ombudsman center raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and contributed items for children being treated at Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.

Helping Families in Need, One Penny at a Time

Penny Wars

Blackshear center student Eric Moore makes a contribution to the “Penny Wars” jar

In Georgia, students are raising money one penny at a time. In Paulding, students are collecting pennies for a non-profit organization that provides new toys at Christmas for approximately 1,900 children in Paulding County, while students in Blackshear are holding a “Penny Wars” fundraiser for families identified by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Literacy Initiatives

Several student and staff initiatives focus on literacy. Students in the Quincy, Ill., Ombudsman center painted a series of three original six-foot by eight-foot murals for display at the Winter Reading Wonderland at Center Elementary School in nearby Center, Mo. One mural depicts a wintry scene and two show holiday characters happily reading books.

Ombudsman staff in Libertyville, Ill., is participating in a “Dollars for Denim” fundraiser for Book Worm Angels, Chicago’s only literacy program providing in-classroom lending libraries to public elementary schools where the majority of students read below grade level. Staff who donate money are allowed to wear jeans on designated days – and Ombudsman is matching the employees’ contribution.

In Nashville, Tenn., employees of Educational Services of America (ESA), of which Ombudsman is a division, are holding breakfast bake sales, a white elephant silent auction and jeans days to raise money for Book ‘Em, the local partner of Reading is Fundamental. ESA is matching the employee contributions.

While community and volunteer service is a vital component of the Ombudsman curriculum throughout the year, these efforts are an especially important and meaningful to our students and staff during the holiday season.

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