The Central Middle School Science Department donated nearly 300 pairs of goggles, 800 gloves, and 84 heavy-duty aprons to nearby Little Company of Mary Hospital on April 2.
Paola Polasek, a seventh-grade science teacher, decided to organize the donation after hearing Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker discuss the state’s shortage of medical equipment on TV.
“I thought about how, in the science department, we have goggles that we are not using since we don’t have school. I thought about how our hospitals could be using them right now," Polasek said. "The science department is a close group and I knew, without a doubt, that everyone would approve of this. We are always working together and helping each other out, so helping out the community was a no-brainer.”
Polasek then reached out to D124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak, who contacted Little Company of Mary and was told the hospital would be delighted to accept whatever donation the district was able to offer.
”One of the unique things about District 124 is how much a part of our community our schools are, and how much our schools reach out to our community for support,” Machak said. “We were happy to help in any way possible. We are all in this together, and I was glad that we could support the incredible work that our doctors and nurses are doing in our community right now.”
With the official go-ahead, Polasek and her student-teacher, Neil Martyn, returned to Central Middle School to sanitize the goggles and put them, individually, into bags before dropping off a donation that the hospital was “shocked and thrilled” to receive.
Polasek hopes that making the donation serves as an important lesson for the students she no longer has the opportunity to see each day.
“I always tell my students that we are a family and we have to treat others how we want to be treated,” Polasek said. "This was a great example. Family is created not just by blood but by shared experience. I want my students to know that while I don’t see them every day in my class, I still think about them every day and keep them in my heart. That’s what you do for family.”
The donation comes just one week after Southeast School secretary Mary Beth Williams worked with health aides and custodial teams across the district to collect and donate gloves to Little Company of Mary Hospital.