CHRISTMAS WITH THE BEARS

On Dec. 19, 2016, George McCaskey and his wife Barb led large Bears Care contingent to Leo for an event designed to make Christmas a little brighter for the Auburn-Gresham community.

More than 50 needy families from four neighborhood grammar schools were invited to Leo for a party that featured a performance by Leo’s world renowned choir and began with a warm holiday meal for close to 300 guests in the Leo cafeteria.

After dinner, as the children visited with Santa Claus and were entertained by clowns, balloon artists, face-painters and cookie designers, their parents and guardians were escorted back to the auditorium, where a an expansive array of presents was available to them—toys, games, clothing and sports equipment. Enough so that each family was allowed to select three gifts for each of its children.

After helping serve the meal, Leo students and Parents Club members, along with volunteers from Bears Care, the 6th District Police Station and George and Barb McCaskey, wrapped the presents and helped the parents carry them to their cars. Each family left with at least three shopping bags full of gifts for their children, all but guaranteeing them a Merry Christmas.

“That was the goal,” said Marge Hamm, director of Bears Care.Leo, she added, was an ideal partner as the Lake Forest-based charity sought to extend its reach to the South Side. “We couldn’t have managed this without Leo’s hospitality and support,” Ms. Hamm said.

“We don’t get down here as often as we should, but we intend to in the future, and it’s good to know that there’s a place like Leo that shares our commitment to helping those in need.”

To cap off the event, the Bears invited more than 50 Leo students, teachers, parents and staff to attend the Dec. 24 game against the Washington Redskins as guests of the Bears.

“We always try to be good neighbors within our community.” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “Thanks to Bears Care, this was as productive and meaningful an event as we’ve been involved in. To see the smiles on the faces of the kids…it was an honor to participate.”