Care Bags for Chicagoland Schools: Chicago West Suburbs, IL
Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) Group 4 students (aged 15 to 18 years) from the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Chicago West Suburbs led a project to distribute care bags to custodial and caffeteria workers in various schools in Chicagoland, in honor of Sri Sathya Sai Baba 96th birthday in November 2021. They were actively supported by other SSE students, center officers and several center members.
The Group 4 SSE students chose custodial workers, janitors and cafeteria workers to express their appreciation to, because they are often overlooked and taken for granted, despite working hard to keep their school clean and sanitized, and ensured everything ran smoothly. SSE students reached out to various public schools and received affirmative responses from their school administration.
Each bag contained nine items - organic pasta, pasta sauce, a box of nut-free nutrition bars, socks, sanitizer bottle, lip balm, hand lotion, a gift card and a candle. Project leaders felt very thrilled to see the enthusiasm of center members as the sign-up sheet for the items filled up quickly. The younger SSE students held sessions to create hand-made and unique cards of thanks and gratitude.
On the day of the service, Sai volunteers, comprising students and adults, gathered at one of the homes. All items were sorted into custom designed tote bags, with the Sarva Dharma logo, ‘Love all Serve all, Help ever Hurt never’ along with the name of the Sai center. In two hours, volunteers had assembled 101 tote bags. The care bags were then dropped off at ten different school locations.
Group 4 SSE volunteers involved in organizing and leading the project shared their collective feeling: “Throughout this experience, we, as a group, learned how to effectively communicate our ideas to the center officers and school administration. We developed leadership qualities and also learned to connect with the God within us. He made His overarching presence felt and blessed us throughout this project. Even when it seemed we were going nowhere, we managed to strive to get somewhere. This journey of struggles and triumphs helped shape our birthday gift for Sai Baba and gave it a final form exactly as He willed it.”
The recipients of the tote bags were very much touched by the gifts, and appreciated the thought and effort that went into the project. Here are some comments from the administrative staff of a few of the schools.
“Our lunchroom and custodial teams were so appreciative of the holiday gift bags! Thank you so much for thinking of our school community and the hardworking folks behind the scenes here at Kennedy.” - JF Kennedy High School
“Please let the students know that all our staff members were happy and thankful!” - Metea Valley High School.
“He came to me today saying that he was so hungry after a busy workday. And he opened the bag and found some bars. He said he felt so happy about it”- May Watts Elementary School.