Photo of CTU Foundation staff presenting holiday gifts to a family in need, standing in front of their Christmas tree.

Lashonda Skipper and her three children, center, accepted holiday gifts from Lamar Davis, left, and Carmen Curet, right.

Lashonda Skipper and her children gleamed with joy when Lamar Davis, CTU Children and Teachers Foundation building services manager, presented a box of wrapped holiday gifts to the family in December. The forecast was predicting a winter storm just days before Christmas, but Davis and CTUF Executive Director Carmen Curet were on a mission. 

The foundation had adopted four families in need of some holiday joy — eight adults and 20 children — and, just days before Christmas, Davis and Curet delivered $2,300 worth of gifts to them as the storm started blowing in. The foundation also donated $5,000 and 200 coats to Hustle Mommies to assist mothers with the purchase of 4,000 toys for children in 10 communities. 

Skipper and her children lost everything except their winter jackets when their Austin apartment building exploded last year. The family had been living with a relative ever since.

“I can’t thank you all enough,” she said. “I don’t know how I would have made Christmas for my kids without you. With all the trauma we’ve been experiencing, it’s just a blessing to have so many people helping out.” 

Helping out is what the CTU Foundation — through its many generous donors — is all about. From winter coat drives to back-to-school supply giveaways to blood drives, the foundation’s mission is to support and serve under-resourced schools and communities. 

Sara Avelar also needed help to make holiday wishes come true for her five children, ages four to 14. Her son had been hospitalized with a burst appendix and her husband was unable to work while he also awaited surgery.

“This is really going to make our holiday special,” she said. “Thank you so much.”

In addition to supporting families in need, the foundation also administers the new Karen JG Lewis NBCT Scholarship, which awards a $10,000 annual scholarship to promote and encourage the next generation of Black leaders in Chicago’s public education system. 

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