Breakfast time: Grant-White third graders Gabrielle Matten and Anaya Marks brought toiletries for Fisher House.JEAN LOTUS/Staff

Check out this year’s Forest Park Community Guide!

Online edition –>

Students at Grant-White Elementary School were rewarded Friday for their generosity at the school’s annual “Giving Breakfast.” Green and red holiday tablecloths covered the lunchroom tables as about 40 students enjoyed sausage breakfast sandwiches, bananas and milk.

On the Grant-White auditorium stage were boxes of toiletries brought in by students for the Fisher House at Hines VA Hospital. Fisher House is a free lodging group-home where family members of veterans can stay while a veteran is treated at the hospital.

The children donated travel-sized shampoos and conditioners, mouthwashes, deodorants, notepads and mints for Fisher House guests.

“Every morning [Principal Wendy] Trotter made an announcement,” said fifth-grade Student Council President Jillian Johnson, age 10. “We will put the stuff in little bags and bring them to Fisher House.”

The project is coordinated by fifth-grade teacher Patricia Malarski along with Resource Manager Sharon Urbaniec and teacher’s aide Sue Giblin.

“My husband is a veteran, so the cause is dear to my heart,” said Malarski.

The kids decorate the gift bags, which are placed in rooms for veterans’ visiting family members, Malarski said. The school’s goal is to deliver 75 gift bags on Dec. 14, she said. “The Fisher House staff really embrace our kids,” Malarski added.

Third-graders Gabrielle Matten and Anaya Marks brought in conditioners, shampoos and packs of Tic Tacs. Asked to describe Fisher House, Anaya called it, “A place where people stay close to their loved ones from the Army.”

Student Council President Jillian visited Fisher House last year. “People are really nice and we got to meet them,” she said. “They all share the library with a whole bunch of books and a Christmas tree.”

Because the items were inexpensive, children could buy them with their own money, which means more.

“We’re proud of all of our children,” said Principal Trotter.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...