Each December the team at Pepper Illinois puts on our Santa hats to help make Christmas a little merrier for children in the Chicago area. Whether it's through donations to Toys for Tots - this year our Chicago and Barrington offices contributed 100 toys - or by participating in the annual Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust Letters to Santa program, we're happy to help create more smiles during this joyful time of year.
This year we have once again tied some of our holiday outreach efforts to Chicago's Genevieve Melody STEM School, our partner through the Working In The Schools (WITS) program. Through the program, select students come to Pepper's office every Monday afternoon to work with volunteers on homework assignments, improving their reading skills or addressing other academic needs. One of our volunteers, Human Resources Generalist Courtney Neisius, says, "It's wonderful to witness the close relationships that develop between the students and their Pepper mentors throughout the school year. In addition to helping them learn, we are able to really talk to them each week. Watching them grow has been personally rewarding for me, and I hope that we're having an equally positive impact on their lives."
As a holiday treat, Pepper mentors visited the school for their final session this month and, instead of completing school work, helped their students create holiday crafts. We also continued our effort to extend the connection to younger students in pre-kindergarten through second grade by making them the recipients of our Letters to Santa program. After selecting a letter from a student, individuals from our Illinois offices purchased and wrapped a gift from the student's list and included a personal response letter from Santa. Gifts and letters were delivered to the classrooms to ensure that each child would have something special to open and enjoy this year that they know was selected just for them.
We are so grateful to the students and staff at Genevieve Melody STEM School for allowing us to be part of their holiday celebrations. We wish our special friends and children everywhere a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!