Gift of Giving

What is Gift of Giving?

For the past 9 years, the Central School community has generously supported two Chicago-based charities during the holiday season – LYDIA Home and Metropolitan Family Services.  Through our school’s donations, both organizations have been able to provide many families and children gifts for the holiday season.

What services do Metropolitan Family Services and LYDIA Home provide?

Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) offers a wide variety of programs and services designed to strengthen families and help them realize their full potential.  Through mentoring and advocate programs such as The Children’s Center, Parenting Fundamentals and Family Violence Intervention, MFS empowers families to learn and to thrive.

LYDIA Home, founded as an orphanage in 1916, has become a successful alternative to state-run foster care and family assistance agencies. LYDIA helps troubled families and children, reaching people in diverse communities with a range of services, including Safe Families for Children, Foster Care, Residential Treatment, Learn & Care Preschool, LYDIA Urban Academy and Counseling Services.

How can I donate to Gift of Giving?

Sign-ups to contribute to both LYDIA Home and MFS are done via SignUpGenius.  The SignUpGenius links will be available via the PTA website, the Central Scoop and Room Parent communication.

There are two SignUpGenius links for you to donate through – one for MFS and one for LYDIA – because the organizations have different needs and different suggested donation amounts.   For Metropolitan Family Services, we are often times providing supplemental gifts and support, and for LYDIA, since many of the children do not live with their families, our donations are the only gifts they will receive at the holidays.

LYDIA Home Link

Metropolitan Family Services Link

What types of gifts are needed and what is the price range?

The Gift of Giving committee met with both organizations this fall and learned that for a variety of reasons, each organization truly needs gift cards for its residents and the families they support.

Both organizations cited an increased demand for their services as the primary reason why they are looking for gift cards compared to actual toys as in the past.  Giving a family a gift card empowers them to purchase a present they know their child wants and look to buy it when that toy is on sale.  In addition, LYDIA Home uses the gift cards to buy items such as toiletries, linens, pajamas, etc. for the kids throughout the year, not just at the holidays, and teach their residents about budgeting and prioritizing how they spend their money.

MFS has asked for gift cards in $25 increments to Target and Walmart for presents for kids of all ages, and in addition, they are looking for some Jewel gift cards as well.  You may sign-up for as many gift cards as you would like to donate – any amount is very much appreciated!

For LYDIA Home this year we are doing a combination of gift cards, “wish list” gifts and items for their housing units.  You can sign-up to donate gift cards to Target, Walmart and Kohl’s in $25 increments.  For their housing units – where the residents live – LYDIA has created Amazon lists to purchase the essentials that they need.  For example, to make the units more “homey,” they are looking for items such as toasters and board games.

Where do I drop off my donations?

There are several options for you to drop off your donation (see below).  Prior to dropping off, please put your gift card in an envelope and inside be sure to include your name and contact number as well as the name of the child the donation is for, the number next to his or her name, age and gender.  For LYDIA Home “wish list” donations, please do not wrap the gifts, but you may include gift receipts if you would like.

For “wish list” donations to LYDIA Home, we will email you the donation forms and tax documentation after you sign-up via SignUpGenius.


In Central’s front office by Mrs. O’Reilly’s desk there is a “Gift of Giving” bin.  Envelopes can be dropped there.  The bin will be checked twice a day.


There also will be three houses with drop-off boxes by the front door where you can leave your donations.

Deb Bernstein – 824 Oakwood Ave. (

Dina Levine – 905 Greenleaf Ave. (

Meghan MacKinnon – 1046 Greenwood Ave. (


And if needed, committee members can pick up donations from your home.

What is the deadline for donations?

We will be collecting donations for both organizations from Sunday, Nov. 5 through Monday, Dec. 4.


For questions please contact, Meghan MacKinnon (, Dina Levine ( or Deb Bernstein (

 Donate School Supplies!

School Supplies Ordering Opens - April 13

School Supplies Ordering Open

Help a CPS child in need.

Each Spring, the PTA offers online school supply ordering for the upcoming school year. (Central’s code: 20324) For 2017-2018, families will see an option to add a “Central CPS Donation” to their order.*  For only $19.24, you can help a low income student get markers, glue sticks, construction paper and much more for the next school year.

By purchasing this kit – or working with your child to have them help – Central families will help support students at Prieto Math and Science Academy where 92.6% of the student population is low-income.  To help, add “Central CPS Donation” kit to your school supply order.  Thank you for your support! Deadline is May 14th.


Sister School in Tanzania

Year-round, students become acquainted with a sister school in Tanzania. Children may exchange small items and letters with penpals, and receive letters and items in return.