Streamwood eighth-graders thank ER staffs, first responders with pizzas

  • One of several thank-you posters prepared by the eighth-grade class of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood to accompany deliveries of pizzas to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

    One of several thank-you posters prepared by the eighth-grade class of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood to accompany deliveries of pizzas to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Courtesy of Michael Kudrna

  • Chef Andy Opiela, left, of Frato's Culinary Kitchen in Schaumburg accompanies the delivery of pizza donated Monday by a fundraiser of the eighth-grade class at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood to the emergency room staff of St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.

    Chef Andy Opiela, left, of Frato's Culinary Kitchen in Schaumburg accompanies the delivery of pizza donated Monday by a fundraiser of the eighth-grade class at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood to the emergency room staff of St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates. Courtesy of Michael Kudrna

  • A letter of thanks from the emergency room staff at Amita Heath St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates to the eighth-grade class at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood Monday for the donation of pizzas.

    A letter of thanks from the emergency room staff at Amita Heath St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates to the eighth-grade class at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood Monday for the donation of pizzas. Courtesy of Michael Kudrna

 
 
Updated 3/31/2020 6:34 AM

Emergency room staff members at Amita St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates Monday were the first -- but not the last -- to receive pizzas donated by the eighth-grade class of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Streamwood through a GoFundMe campaign.

The afternoon and evening deliveries of 10 pizzas each were accompanied by small thank-you posters created by the students.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm very excited about it," eighth-grader Alicia Witt said of the first deliveries from the fundraising effort that began last Thursday. "Just that we're helping the community as much as we possibly can."

Social media has helped the close-knit class of 19 students stay in touch through what they'd always imagined would be "their" spring, and helped them to collaborate on the various thank-you posters that will be accompanying the pizzas.

"Most of us are pretty creative," Alicia said. "(The posters say) thank you for your time and sacrificing your safety for ours."

She and classmates don't expect anything in return, but imagine they might see a few thank you letters in the days to come -- the first of which was forwarded Monday afternoon by the staff at Amita Health.

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By the same time, the 4-day-old "Pizza Hero's" page on GoFundMe.com had already raised $2,499, largely through donations from members of St. John the Evangelist Parish.

Future deliveries are planned for emergency room staffs at Amita Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Amita St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, the police and fire departments of Streamwood, Bartlett and Hanover Park, and more.

Alicia said the pizzas are going to front-line workers directly serving the local community during the coronavirus pandemic or to agencies farther away where a member of the St. John the Evangelist community may work. The Northlake Police Department is among those in the latter category, for instance.

Her mother, Doraly Witt, said the project has helped students as they navigate a troubling time and keeps them focused on something outside themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It is a very scary time for adults, and an even scarier time for kids," she said.

Though Doraly Witt helped set up the actual GoFundMe page, the original idea came from fellow parent Kerry Frost, who saw an item on TV last week about an agency in New York doing something similar.

Frost, a culinary teacher at Schaumburg High School, said she's collaborated in the past with Michael Kudrna, president of Frato's Culinary Kitchen in Schaumburg. She is aiming to have Frato's make as many of the pizzas as it can practically deliver to the intended recipients.

Given the cause behind the students' fundraiser, Kudrna said it was important to him to set the prices at a level that doesn't make a profit for his business but helps support his employees in these difficult financial times.

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