Harper Honors Students Provide Holiday Gifts for Children at Homeless Shelter

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CHICAGO — What began as a service project component for students enrolled in the Harper Honors Program grew into a full-fledged holiday gift collection. Students “adopted” some of the children for the holidays at the Chicago Lydia Home Association, a shelter for abused or homeless children.

Maral Mjukian, president of the Harper Honors Society, organized the gift drive.

“Maral organized everything — she collected the Lydia children’s wish lists, she marketed the idea to the other honors students and rounded up participants — mostly students, but also some faculty,” said Andrew Wilson, professor, Liberal Arts, faculty advisor to the group. Gifts were collected for about 40 of the children at Lydia Home, ranging in age from 6 to 17.

Mjukian, a resident of Mt. Prospect, is a nursing major and planning to transfer to either the University of Illinois Circle or Northern Illinois University.

“A few weeks ago, I organized an event with the Lydia Home,” said Mjukian. “Some students from Honors Society and Phi Theta Kappa spent time with the children at the Lydia home. The Honors Program bought pizza and played board games with the children. Several of the students and I collected money to also buy the children goodie bags. This turned out great.”

This success got Mjukian thinking about other possibilities for the children. “After spending time with these children and listening to what they have gone through, it made me think of what I can do for them,” she said. “I had never been to a foster home before until we had the pizza and game party event. I just thought about how fortunate I am to have such a loving family and how the holidays bring families together. After that night I knew I wanted to do something special for them.”

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“Something special” turned into “a small mountain of gifts” with a value of “approximately $1,000,” according to Wilson, who delivered the gifts to Lydia House.

“I’m really happy this worked out,” said Mjukian, “and I really want to continue to do events like this.”

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