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Tables Turned: Hoffman Estates Students with Disabilities Provide Community Service to Little City

Thanksgiving food basket project allows Adult Transitional Program students a chance to give back

Adult Transition Program teaching assistants Nicole Stacy (standing) and Anthony Trevino (with hat) work with students Jimmy Rinchiuso, Ala Samara, and Michael Zanichelli (left to right) who are making cards to be given with food baskets to Little City families.
Adult Transition Program teaching assistants Nicole Stacy (standing) and Anthony Trevino (with hat) work with students Jimmy Rinchiuso, Ala Samara, and Michael Zanichelli (left to right) who are making cards to be given with food baskets to Little City families.

About 38 students from Hoffman Estates High School’s Adult Transition Program South at Higgins Educational Center collected nonperishable food items over the past several weeks and assembled over 30 Thanksgiving food baskets at Little City in Palatine on Nov. 19.

The baskets are given to families in Little City’s home-based support program, which provides in-home services to families caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The extreme generosity of the students and program staff who dedicated their time and resources will go a long way for the many children, adults and families we serve,” said Rich Bobby, chief program officer of children’s programs at Little City. “We are thankful for their contribution in helping make this Thanksgiving a special one for those in need of a little extra assistance.  We wish the students and staff the continued joy they experienced in giving back to their community as we enter the holiday season.”

This marked the seventh year the Adult Transition Program South students participated in the project at Little City, said Pete Capra, a lead teacher with the Adult Transition Program in Hoffman Estates. “Each year, the goal is 35 bags for 35 families, and each year we meet that goal and there’s always extra,” he said.

During November, the students collect donated nonperishable food items while they bring a coffee cart to different departments at Hoffman Estates High School for teachers. “If you bring items, you get a free cup of coffee,” Capra said. The students, who also bring donations from home, look forward to the project each year. “As soon as school starts, our returning students are always asking about it,” he said.

In addition to the food the students collected, Jewel-Osco contributed $300 in gift cards for the families who received the baskets. Other individuals also contributed funds and donated food items.

The Adult Transitional Program students personalize the food baskets with greetings. “They also make cards for each bag, so the families receiving the bags will enjoy some great artwork made by the students,” said Catrina Johnson, manager of volunteer services at Little City.

The project also provides a way for the students to see Little City, where several graduates of the Adult Transition Program currently are participants, Capra said. And it allows them to be active members of a community service project.

“I feel like people are always helping them, so for them to be on the other end and helping others in need, it really hits home. They really have an opportunity to be a community member who helps out, and they take pride in that. They like being able to help somebody else,” Capra said.

The Adult Transition Program serves students with mild and moderate cognitive impairments who have met the requirements to receive a high school diploma, yet need to continue developing vocational, life skills, community and leisure skills up to their 22nd birthday. Students are determined to be eligible for the transition program through the Individualized Education Program process.

In addition to home-based support services, Little City provides housing, education, recreational and vocational programming to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Palatine and the surrounding community. Its Chicago office provides foster care and adoptive placement services.

For more information about Little City, contact Tim Gavin at 847-221-7859 or tgavin@littlecity.org.

For more information about Hoffman Estate High School’s Adult Transition Program South, contact Pete Capra at 224-653-6490 or pcapra@d211.org.

About Little City
Being a leader for 59 years, Little City continues to be inspirational and transformational in developing its 56-acre therapeutic community in Palatine. From a modest beginning of three homes and 16 residents primarily with Down syndrome, Little City has grown into a recognized leader offering a wide array of innovative services to more than 1,000 clients weekly. In addition to the Palatine location, Little City has a Community Services Office in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, adult service centers in Palatine and Waukegan, and 13 adult community homes and one children’s group home located throughout suburban Cook and DuPage Counties.

Today, Little City’s comprehensive program portfolio includes vocational training and employment placement, foster care and adoption, home-based family support, health and wellness, recreation and therapeutic activities, disability awareness and community education, a day school and an award-winning arts program. Visit www.littlecity.org.

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“Little City uses an affirming message – that it’s a good world, there’s a place for my kids in the world and Little City will help them find it.”

Rachel, mother of children receiving home-based support services