Toys For Tots, from tots: Local preschoolers give back this holiday season

  • Preschool students at The Gardner School of Naperville, left, and Yorktown Center, middle, donate toys. In Lincoln Park, right, a box is filled and ready to deliver to Lurie Children's Hospital.

    Preschool students at The Gardner School of Naperville, left, and Yorktown Center, middle, donate toys. In Lincoln Park, right, a box is filled and ready to deliver to Lurie Children's Hospital. Courtesy of Joy Haynes

 
 
Updated 12/23/2021 1:08 PM

It's never too early to teach young children about the gifts of compassion and generosity.

At several of The Gardner Schools in the Chicago area, teachers worked closely with parents to show their preschoolers what it means to spread holiday cheer by giving back to their communities.

 

Starting in November, students and their families at The Gardner School in Glenview-Northbrook, Naperville, Oak Brook, Lombard, and Schaumburg donated a dozen large boxes filled with toys for kids in low-income families through Toys for Tots.

The program, organized by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, collects new, unwrapped toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in their communities.

At The Gardner School of Chicago -- River North, West Loop, Lincoln Park, and Bucktown, preschoolers gathered and donated 10 large boxes of toys for young patients receiving treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital. Students at the school's Lincolnshire campus donated new and gently used coats for local families.

"Toys for Tots does essential work to make sure every child gets to experience the magic of the holidays," said Kerry Alholm, director of The Gardner School at Yorktown Center. "We're proud to partner with Toys for Tots. And we cherish this opportunity to help our students demonstrate compassion and kindness by giving to our community."

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The first five years of a child's life are essential to introduce them to the importance of community service and charitable giving.

The Gardner School works with local and national organizations throughout the year to connect children to their communities, including Make-A-Wish, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and The Salvation Army.

"To educate the whole child, we know how important it is to instill positive core values as early as possible," said Erinn Cohen, director of The Gardner School of Chicago -- River North. "Kindness is central to our curriculum. By both getting and giving kindness, our students grow healthier, boost their self-esteem, and build a more profound sense of belonging."

Each year, more than 220,000 children receive the highest-quality medical care at Lurie Children's Hospital.

In 2020, the Chicago Toys for Tots campaign generated nearly 79,000 toys for local children. To donate or request a toy, visit toysfortots.org.

To learn more about The Gardner School, visit us online at www.thegardnerschool.com.

Founded in 2004, The Gardner School is an academically-focused preschool for ages 6 weeks through 5 years old. Headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, The Gardner School has schools located in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Virginia. To schedule a tour at a specific location, visit www.thegardnerschool.com/contact-us.

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