CHICAGO -- It was anything but your average Monday afternoon at Manierre Elementary in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood.
On the first day of spring, it felt more like Christmas morning for 107 kindergarten, first and second graders.
Thanks to their good attendance, they were surprised with a new bike, new pair of shoes and a snack bag during a special assembly presented by Buddy’s HELPERS.
Moments later, two eighth grade students - one boy and one girl - were presented with $10,000 college scholarship checks.
They were selected based on attendance and grades. The scholarship money will sit in a trust fund and be paid directly to the college upon the student’s acceptance.
If that wasn’t enough, Manierre principal, Derrick Orr, accepted a check on the school’s behalf for $1,000 to help support its upcoming eighth grade college exposure trip. Students will visit universities in Illinois, California and Florida.
Teachers also received 5-foot tall, 3 foot-wide life-size cards, which were signed with motivational notes by thousands of Chicagoans and tourists along Michigan Ave. on Sunday afternoon.
Manierre, which fought off closure in 2013, was randomly selected from a list of low-income Chicago schools to receive the special surprise. Since 2013, Manierre has gone from a Level 3 school to a Level 2+ school. More than 99 percent of the school’s enrollment comes from low-income families.
The surprise donations were a result of Buddy’s HELPERS Challenge Day II. Buddy’s HELPERS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit uniting Chicago-area high school student-athletes and teachers/coaches in an annual community service campaign built around “Making A Difference On AND Off The Field.”
It engages hundreds of high schools and thousands of Chicago-area students through the PepsiCo Showdown - the largest high school soccer tournament in the U.S. In 2017, there are 216 high schools and more than 21,500 student-athletes a part of the PepsiCo Showdown.
The second annual challenge day took place on Sunday. It featured superintendents, teachers, coaches, principals, athletic directors and parents coming together from all over Chicago and putting together the bikes and preparing all the surprise items on Sunday. Fifteen girls soccer players from Saint Viator High School also helped during Monday’s surprise.