Baskets are gifts for moms
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent May 22, 2013 1:16PM
(l to r) Berneder Thomas-Wright of Chicago Heights and LaShung Willis of Ivy Tech look over some of the items donated by Majestic Star team members during a Mothers Day reception at the casino in Gary. Team members collected items for SoJourner Truth House and Edgewaters Systems this year. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2013 3:25PM
Elaborate displays of toiletries, clothes and toys filled the Southshore Events Center at Majestic Star Casino on May 8 during the 13th annual Mother’s Day Reception honoring not-for-profit organizations that help women and children in need.
Majestic Star Casinos and Hotel’s corporate director of community relations Chareice White said all of the personal toiletries and non-perishable and household items for women and children were purchased by the casinos and hotel employees per their departments.
“We have community ambassadors and the employees go into their own pockets to purchase these items,” she said. “They are very competitive as to which department purchases the most items to donate and with their creative displays showcasing their contributions.”
She added that community leaders come and judge the displays and the top three departments receive trophies and bragging rights. The Food and Beverages department took first place, Marine placed second and Table Games placed third.
But it is the community organizations who gain the biggest trophies, in the form of a portion of the bounty of goods from the displays.
This year’s recipients were executive directors of two local organizations, Sister Peg Spindler of Sojourner Truth House and Danita Johnson Hughes of Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living.
Each woman was recognized for her continuing efforts in helping homeless women and children, as well as women who live and deal with mental illness. Edgewater Systems’ chief strategic planning and development officer Renae Tomczak filled in for Johnson-Hughes, who was unable to attend the reception.
Tomczak thanked Majestic Star Casino on behalf of Edgewater Systems, saying it was very humbling to benefit from those who care about others in the community.
“The employees and community ambassadors at Majestic Star are extremely compassionate about the service we provide to individuals living with mental illness,” she said.
“One in four adults is diagnosed with a form of mental illness,” Tomczak noted. “One in five children and adolescents are diagnosed with a form of mental illness. I cannot wait to see the faces on our clients when they see the donations.”
She added that Edgewater Systems is in its 39th year and services 3,500 clients annually.
Spindler said in the 15 years since Sojourner Truth House was established by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, it has gone from helping 800 homeless women and children a year get back on their feet to 2,000 a month last year.
“Women on food stamps cannot purchase personal toiletries like shampoo, soap, deodorant, feminine products, so to have a company like Majestic Star Casino and their employees purchase these items from their personal finances. We thank you,” Spindler said.
Raffle drawings were held with prizes for oldest and youngest mom, mom and daughter duos and grandmother, mother and daughter guests.