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'It gives me purpose in this world': Chicago volunteer gets CPS students gifts from wish lists

Chicago volunteer gets CPS students gifts from wish lists
Chicago volunteer gets CPS students gifts from wish lists 02:04

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A non-profit organization is helping thousands of CPS students with their Christmas wish lists. 

They've almost reached their goal of helping 5,000 students, but they still need your help. CBS 2's Shardaa Gray talked with the organizer and a volunteer who's trying to make kids wishes come true.

In each of their folders are hand written letters from CPS students from 10 different schools, letting Santa know they've been good all year, and asking for gifts such as a bucket of slime and a fidget box.

Michelle DiGiacomo, is the founder of Direct Effect Charities, a non-profit organization that reaches out to donors to help answer the letters and purchase the gifts. She's been helping 5,000 students each year for 20 years.

"It's medicine to me. It gives me purpose in this world. I'm disabled and I can't do very many things anymore, but I can still do this."

This year, she had a setback. She had a stroke in October, the same time students starting writing their letters. She's been in and out of the hospital.

"I even considered possibly not doing them this year, but that lasted a minute or so," DiGiacomo said.

Since DiGiacomo is in the hospital, she's getting help from holiday elves.

Meet Michelle Grundfeld. She's stepping in for DiGiacomo.

"All of the letters actually from every school were dropped off here at my house."

Grunfeld has taken on the task of matching donors with specific age groups they'd like to help, as well as gathering some of the gifts.

"As you can still see, there's still a lot left. And I'm very stressed because I want to make sure that we have every single CPS student letter that we took fulfilled," Grunfeld said.

So far, they've helped 4,500 students and still have 500 more to go. To donate, you can send an email at

Checks can also be mailed to: Direct Effect Charities 4044 N. Lincoln Ave. #400 Chicago, IL, 60618

Help!  Please join us this year and bring holiday magic to a child in need! Gather your elves and help us fulfill our...

Posted by Direct Effect Charities Gratitude Cafe on Monday, November 28, 2022
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