Brighter futures begin with you this March
Last month, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls President and CEO Fr. Scott Donahue was a featured speaker at “The Gathering IX,” sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Before a crowd of about 400, Fr. Scott discussed Mercy Home’s powerful purpose of helping at-risk youth in the city of Chicago build brighter futures.
Making this purpose possible, he said, are compassionate people throughout Chicago and across the country who support Mercy Home with their donations. He noted that this active faith and generosity is rooted in Jesus’s command to us to give as a gift what has been given so freely to us, as expressed in the Gospel of Matthew.
Fr. Scott’s appearance came as Mercy Home was gearing up for its annual March for Kids campaign, in which generous volunteers collect donations throughout Chicago. Volunteers (individuals and organized groups) help Mercy Home conduct fund drives throughout the month of March.
One group that has supported Mercy Home’s work for many years through its March for Kids program is the Knights of Columbus. The Catholic fraternal service organization has participated in March for Kids for the last decade; and this year, more councils than ever before will support the Home by collecting donations at parishes throughout the Archdiocese, hosting fish fries, and throwing St. Patrick’s Day fundraising parties.
While it is one of the largest and most visible groups helping the March for Kids effort, the Knights of Columbus will not be alone. Other groups, like college service organizations, will join individual volunteers on the streets of Chicago this month raise support for Mercy Home, including around the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 14 and the South Side Irish Parade on March 15. Additionally, several corporate office groups, led by Mercy Home’s young professionals board, will gather on bridges and street corners during the morning rush in the Loop on Fri., March 13, to collect donations.
“Volunteering to collect donations on the street or even organizing fundraisers inside your school, office or with your church group is a unique way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” said Rachel Twarog, who is managing the volunteer outreach for Mercy Home’s March for Kids.
“We’re always in need of people to bring their enthusiasm or their creativity to this effort to help our kids.” Those interested in volunteering can contact Twarog at 312-738-7567.
Clad in the campaign’s Kelly green vests and shaking donation cans, Mercy Home’s March for Kids volunteers will ask for the public’s help in giving at-risk children a safe place to live, therapy to heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect, and tools like education and job skills to help them build lifetimes of independence and success.
Mercy Home’s March for Kids has been held annually under different names, since 1996, when it was known as A Touch O’ Green. The program was created to harness the energy and spirit of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday in Chicago in the effort to raise support for the Home’s children. It was also a nod to the organization’s deep Irish roots. Chicago’s first Archbishop, Patrick Feehan, was a native of Tipperary, Ireland, and gave the green light to Irish-American priest Fr. Dennis Mahoney to found the mission to care for homeless boys in 1887. All eight leaders of the Home since then were Catholic priests of Irish descent, including its current president and CEO, Fr. Scott, who last year was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame.
A family-friendly party in support of the campaign had been held for years immediately following the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. After a brief hiatus, Mercy Home is bringing back its family-friendly post-parade celebration this year at the Chicago Cultural Center. The event will feature live Irish music and step dancers; kid and adult beverages; Irish-themed food buffet, including a build-your-own mac-n-cheese bar for the kids; special children’s activity section featuring carnival and arcade games; great prizes; balloon artists; a temporary tattoo station; and more. General admission for adults is $75, and $20 for ages six to 20. Kids ages five and under are free!
For the past several years, and again this year, celebrity spokesman Bill Rancic is helping get the word out through media appearances, while raising support through his RPM Steak and RPM Italian restaurants in Chicago. A portion of proceeds from special menu items during the month will benefit Mercy Home’s March for Kids. Similarly, a number of other Chicago restaurants will raise donations, including Monteverde, Piccolo Sogno and Nonnina.
Of course, dining out in the city might not be an option for everyone. And not everyone can volunteer to collect donations. But anyone can make a difference in the lives of Mercy Home’s kids this month without leaving the comfort of their own home. Throughout the entire month of March, any donation made online at mercyhome.org/marchforkids will be matched by a generous donor.
Donations like those raised through this effort supply Mercy Home with nearly 100 percent of the funds it needs to care for children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Fr. Scott thanked supporters for the impact they have on young people, who for more than 133 years have turned to Mercy Home in search of hope and healing.
“I am deeply grateful to so many kind, compassionate people who help make this mission possible through their involvement in Mercy Home’s March for Kids year after year,” Fr. Donahue said. “It’s because of their generosity that the children entrusted to our care are able to overcome tremendous adversity in their young lives, break cycles of abuse and neglect, and grow into successful adults.”
Tune in to ABC7 Chicago, who is supporting Mercy Home’s March for Kids this month, as is country station US99. More information on Mercy Home’s March for Kids can be found at mercyhome.org/marchforkids.