The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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South family brings holiday joy

Secret Santa Inc, a non-profit gifting organization founded by senior Jack Conlon’s family in 1994,  is embarking on another year of bringing joy to disadvantaged kids during the holiday season, Jack said.

The corporation collects letters addressed to Santa with gift requests from Chicagoland schools with high levels of poverty and matches sponsors to fund the presents, Jack’s father, Joe Conlon, said. From there, the program’s volunteers dress up as elves and deliver the gifts to each classroom, Jack explained. The sponsors aim to not just buy toys, but also necessary resources that the kids may need during the wintertime, like gloves, jacket or hat, Jack added.

“Our highest year, we [had gifts for] about 2,500 kids,” Jack said. “[The program] is a great way to give back to the community and help as many people as possible,” Jack said.

Coordinating the program is a large undertaking, as presents are stacked wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling in the Conlon household, and transporting the presents requires two Walgreens trucks, Jack said. However, having done the program for so long, the preparation period has become normal, and Jack will miss being around the chaos and helping deliver gifts when he goes to college next year, he explained.

“A lot of the time, [the kids] are not going to receive another gift for Christmas, and it is just awesome to see their faces and how excited they are,” Jack said. “They are thrilled to have us there.”

The charity was founded 29 years ago by Joe and his wife, but the entire family helps out, Joe said.

“My parents have all been involved, my wife’s parents have all been involved, and my kids have all been involved, so I think it is generational,” Joe said.

The charity offers Joe’s children the privilege to make a “ripple effect” of helping others, Joe said.

“It is the positive impact on the community and the opportunity to give back [that makes it all worthwhile].”

The number one reason for partaking in the organization is having a positive impact on surrounding communities, Joe said. Seeing the kids’ faces when they are gifted something offers  perspective on how to appreciate the little things, Joe added.

“Giving is always better than receiving,” Joe said.

Like Christmas Morning: Elementary school students at John Hayes Community Academy open their presents provided by Secret Santa Inc. The charity aims to deliver presents to students all across the Chicagoland area. Photo courtesy of Jack Conlon (Jack Conlon)
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