Ahern: Mount Greenwood School students targeted for help
By Patti Ahern Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 11:08AM
Cori Ellis reads to Dan. | Supplied photo
Updated: June 6, 2013 6:14AM
The business logo for Target stores is a red bull’s-eye, but it’s possible that administrators at Mount Greenwood Elementary School may lobby to change it to a big red heart, thanks to special efforts by Target employees.
Students with special needs at the school, 10841 Homan Ave., were visited recently by Target employees who spent time with them, reading and working on projects together.
The visit came as a result of an outing to a Target store that special-education teacher Peggy Lanigan arranged for her students by obtaining grant money from the Chicago Foundation for Education.
Lanigan, who teaches students in the fifth through eighth grades, took 14 students to the store at 4120 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, as part of a social outing designed to let them practice skills such as planning a shopping trip and buying and paying for items.
“This was a social experience for them,” she said. “They were doing things people take for granted, such as buying their own toiletries. Target was wonderful. We said we were coming, and they had goodie bags ready for the children.
“And when it came to paying for items, Target opened up a lane just for the students so they could each individually pay, which helps develop social as well as money skills.”
Mount Greenwood Principal Catherine Reidy said taking the special-ed children to stores is good practice to aid them in learning to perform tasks that many people take for granted.
“Being out in the community, being out and about, teaches them how to cross a street, how to have social skills and how to survive in life,” Reidy said. “It also lets the community know who these kids are and that helps keep them safer.
“The children learned how to find items at the store, use a list and purchase items. These children have grown so much, and this helps make the older kids more ready for high school than ever before.”
Lanigan said that after the children visited the Target store, she was surprised to hear from Cori Ellis, the executive team leader at Target, who wanted to bring volunteers to Mount Greenwood School to work with the children further. Lanigan said the idea of having volunteers come to the school was more than she expected.
“It was wonderful. They donated books and crayons, but most of all this was their time that they gave,” she said. “They made these kids feel wonderful, and I was so taken aback. It was so nice that they came and let the children know how important they are.”
Ellis, who has worked nearly five years at the Target store, said she and her fellow workers were happy to work with the children.
“Target participates in education and volunteer events,” she said. “Every store tries to give back. Target has a ‘Read Across America’ program where volunteers promote reading. My team had a great time at Mount Greenwood. I really enjoyed it and thought it was really nice to spend time this way.”
Sarah Van Nevel, a spokeswoman for Target, explained in an email the company’s commitment to community service.
“At the heart of this giving is a deeply rooted commitment to education and helping more U.S. children read proficiently by the end of third grade — a critical milestone on the path to graduation,” Van Nevel wrote. “As part of this commitment, Target is on track to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015.
“Target’s giving goes beyond simply writing a check. Target team members nationwide volunteer hundreds of thousands of hours to community service projects each year.”
Lanigan appreciated the volunteer spirit of the employees at the Oak Lawn store.
“I am so thrilled to have created a partnership with Target’s volunteer team. I plan to continue incorporating Target into our community and social skills activities,” Lanigan said.
Mount Greenwood School educates about 900 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. For more information about the school, visit www.mtgreenwood.cps.k12.il.us