Santa arrived early for an Inverness-based social services agency when nearly 3,000 donated baby items were carried through the streets of Palatine by local elementary students wanting to help babies in need. Society for the Preservation of Human Dignity (PHD) needed a truck to load in the haul of donations from the students from nearby St. Theresa School in Palatine. It was an annual effort by more than 400 St. Theresa students who donate everything from diapers to bottles to formula for the Baby and Maternity Closet of PHD.
"Once again, we are overwhelmed by the generosity of the St. Theresa students," said PHD Executive Director Catherine Vincus. "It's one of our favorite days at PHD when we see all these students carrying bags and bags of donations."
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And the feeling is mutual. According to Mary Ellis, a St. Theresa's teacher, who coordinated this year's effort: "We have older kids who have long graduated who come back and always say the day they walked for PHD was a highlight of their years at St. Theresa."
"Hundreds of kids walking down the street carrying their bags is always a sight to see," said Vincus. "The joy on their faces to know they are giving to someone in need is priceless."
"Children learn service by doing," Ellis said. "And this builds compassion, community service and gets them thinking that it's much more rewarding to be a giver instead of a getter. It's kids helping kids." The annual drive began about 20 years ago when PHD was housed on Plum Grove Road, just a few blocks from St. Theresa and students walked through the streets two-by-two, carrying their donations. Since PHD's move from Palatine to Inverness in 2010, students now walk to the Palatine Police department where they are met by PHD staff -- and a U-Haul that's needed to transport all the donations.
The annual walk helps stock PHD's Baby & Maternity Closet which is open to women in need who are clients of PHD.
Founded over 35 years ago, Society for the Preservation of Human Dignity ( PHD) offers comprehensive counseling, case management and baby closet services to women who are pregnant or parenting a child age three or younger. Counseling programs include pregnancy and decision-making, pregnancy planning, grief and loss counseling, post adoption and post abortion counseling. Women also have access to a variety of community based referrals, pregnancy testing, childbirth preparation, postpartum depression support and parenting education. Motivate Prevention services include programs for adolescents and parents addressing issues on healthy sexual relationships and character development. In 2012 PHD Motivate Prevention Programs reached out to over 7,000 adolescents and parents.