On Friday, December 13, the Wood Family Foundation made wishes come true at Lawndale Community Academy, providing all of its 496 students with a much-appreciated holiday celebration.
Launched in 2011 by former Chicago Cub Kerry Wood, this foundation seeks to advocate for Chicago-area children from the Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park and Lawndale communities. Their annual Warm Wishes event highlights one school whose principal has a vision for change and school success.
“We chose Lawndale because of the dedication of Principal Willard Willette, as well as the ambiance of the school and the great students and staff,” said Laurie Dimakos of the Wood Family Foundation.
Weeks prior to the event, children in grades Pre-K – 8 filled letters with their holiday desires, asking for everything from dollhouses to MP3 players. Some were very practical, asking for shoes and socks, and some were highly imaginative, requesting such treasures as 1,000 pieces of candy.
One day before the celebration, scores of volunteers from the Wood Foundation descended on Lawndale, transforming the school auditorium into a winter wonderland complete with giant snow globes and a forest of Christmas trees.
“We were excited to bring some joy and holiday spirit to these deserving kids,” said Dimakos. “It was magical to see their faces.”
The students arrived class by class, gratefully accepting one of the gifts from their wish lists and excited to find that they would also be taking home a new winter coat in their favorite color.
“This was the greatest thing ever for our students,” said Lawndale principal Willard Willette. “A lot of times, low-income communities feel overlooked during this time of year. But by being here, the Wood Foundation is saying that they support us and that they want to do whatever they can to help our community.”