This year’s annual School Chest Fundraiser was a huge success, raising a grand total of $155,138.81 for Fill A Heart 4 Kids. This was due to the tireless efforts of many dedicated staff and students and the Deerfield community couldn’t be more grateful and proud. They have discovered there are many ways to give back to others in need, even in the middle of a pandemic.
The Junior Exec Board sponsors, Michelle Brownell and Kristen Doktor, and the students have worked long and hard to make sure this year’s events and activities were just as accessible to the public as they would have been in person. Of particular concern are the freshmen and new students that have never experienced a School Chest season before. Mr. Comerford, a School Chest sponsor, explains what these past few weeks were all about. “Every year the DHS community comes together to raise money and awareness for a particular charity. The fundraiser is three weeks long and runs from the start of November until Thanksgiving break. It is a very spirited time of year with fun events and a great sense of community.” Everyone in the community, not just at Deerfield High School unite during these three weeks each year to help others less fortunate than them through fun activities like the Virtual Game Night in November 19, special productions like Deerfield Idol (was live streamed on the 17th), delicious portion nights at local restaurants, or small get togethers like the Run 4 Change (on the 14th). These events allow the community to raise money for a great cause while also having fun with family and friends.
As many readers know, the charity selected this year was Fill A Heart 4 Kids. It is a local charity that helps homeless and at risk children in the Chicago area. According to their website, there are 1.3 million homeless children living on the streets and 120,000 orphans and foster children living in institutions or group homes. One of four of these kids are being targeted by traffickers within three days of getting out onto the streets. These startling statistics are part of what makes a charity like Fill A Heart 4 Kids so important. Their mission is “to provide unaccompanied homeless youth, at risk, and foster children educational support, necessities and positive experiences to help their hearts heal and restore their dignity so they can achieve Brighter Futures.” Without this charity’s help, many of Chicago’s homeless youth may have been forced into an unsafe living situation.
This worthy cause was selected through a vigorous process starting all the way back in last spring. According to Mr. Comerford, many charitable organizations apply each spring to be the chosen School Chest charity in the coming fall. After the Student Council vote on the final two charities, two videos made by those organizations were shown to the students at DHS who then voted on which charity will be selected for that year’s School Chest fundraiser. At the end of the three weeks, the Student Council reveals how much money was raised and presents it to the charity in a giant check in front of the whole school. It is so exciting and rewarding for the whole community to see how their hard work and dedication can benefit such a great cause and it gives everyone a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we weren’t able to gather in person like we normally would at school to support this great cause. Luckily, the students and staff were able to find creative solutions to these boundaries and many events were switched to an online format to still be accessible to all. This included live streams, websites, flyers and emails with information about upcoming events. Mr. Comerford offers this as reassurance, “Student Council has been working hard to make activities virtual, or to adjust them to be outdoors and socially distant. The focus has also shifted to include more portion nights and other ways people can support the cause from home. While many of the events may look different, we are confident that the spirit and energy can still be the same and there are tons of great ways to get involved!” As long as all distancing rules are observed, there is no reason this great cause can’t go on. No matter the conditions, the annual School Chest fundraiser continues to provide a sense of unity for the community, which is more important in the middle of a stressful, scary pandemic than ever.
The School Chest fundraiser has been one of the many highlights of fall here at Deerfield High School for many years and the staff and students are very proud that it continues to this day. Many of them work hard to ensure that every year raises as much money as possible. Most students and their families live in an affluent area where the majority of the population is fortunate enough to be able to help others that aren’t as privileged. This is why it is imperative to keep participating in fundraising activities and events despite the distance. It is important to remember that while dealing with quarantine and distancing is hard on everybody, it is much harder for the kids staying out on the streets and living in group homes to stay safe.
Although School Chest season is coming to an end, there are still many ways to support great causes like Fill A Heart 4 Kids and other charities like it. Donating money and resources is a great way to support a cause while remaining distance. Also, spreading awareness about Fill A Heart 4 Kids and what they stand for is another amazing way to give back. This year’s fundraiser was a greater success than the last and it has been inspiring to see the community come together in support of a greater cause. It took a lot of hard work from dedicated people but it paid off; everyone is so excited to see what is in store for School Chest season next year!