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Students embrace community service over holiday season

Glendale Heights – As a way of giving back to those less fortunate this holiday season, students at Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School have volunteered at homeless shelters and organized food and clothing drives in the community.

Every year, staff, students and parents at the school’s three campuses choose a holiday service mission. This year, the north campus in Glendale Heights chose the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry; school officials dropped off eight bags of food at the pantry last week. The west campus in North Aurora and south campus in Glen Ellyn collected clothing, food and Christmas gifts to benefit Aunt Martha’s Aurora Community Health Center, a nonprofit social service and health care agency, and collected coats, mittens and other outerwear for the local Goodwill agency.

“I’m so proud of the service my staff and students provide our community each holiday season,” said Lisa Grigsby, director of Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School. “Proper stewardship of community resources is a valuable lesson for our students to learn.”

Representatives of Aunt Martha’s said they appreciate the school’s support. 

“It is always so nice when we can partner with the community to make sure that those less fortunate are cared about,” said Shelly Goodmanson, Aunt Martha’s director of communications and development. “This is a difficult time for so many and the students have done a fantastic job of providing for Aunt Martha’s families.” 

Students in the school’s Transition program, which teaches young adults age 17 to 21 the life skills they need to become independent adults, boxed food and goods for needy Glendale Heights residents. Many students and staff in the program also volunteer two to three hours a week throughout the year at a local PADS homeless shelter, Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn and Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights.

Designed for children with learning disabilities and emotional and psychiatric problems, Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School was founded in 1995. Elementary through high-school age (grades 3 through 12) students earn normal academic credits while addressing their therapeutic goals. Along with traditional individual and group therapy, the school uses recreation, pets, music and art activities with certified therapists to help with physical, social and emotional growth.

The school is staffed by a caring group of teachers, nurses, social workers, therapists, clinical psychologists and a psychiatrist; there is one staff member for every three students. Its enrollment is approximately 120 students at north (main) campus in Glendale Heights, 40 at the west campus in North Aurora and 30 at the south campus in Glen Ellyn. The school is funded partly through local school districts in the six-county area that are reimbursed by the state and partly through Adventist GlenOaks Hospital and GlenOaks Hospital Foundation.