Camelot Education’s Students and Staff Support Communities in Need Throughout the Holiday Season
Recognizing that the holidays are a particularly difficult time for people who have lost work or shelter amid the pandemic, Excel Academy of Englewood students and staff worked together to deliver meals, socks and hygiene products to neighbors in need.
The event was part of Operation Have a Heart, which came together last year to provide hot meals and warm clothing to people facing homelessness who live in tent cities in parts of the south side of Chicago.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Celeste Sulaiman, Englewood director of student services and co-organizer of Operation Have a Heart. “Hearing some of the stories brought our students and myself to tears and inspired us to maintain our giving programs.”
Giving is an important part of the school network’s culture. Operation Have a Heart dates back to the summer, when Camelot Education organized a meal-giving program for people experiencing homelessness. Camelot set up a tent and table in Englewood’s parking lot for residents in need to pick up supplies. Staff and students follow all health and safety protocols while working in the community.
“We saw there was a great need for donating goods in the Englewood area,” said career counselor Umi Brooks. “We coordinated a donation event in our parking lot to supply baby clothes to young mothers and a variety of items including hand sanitizer, masks, diapers, wipes and hygiene products.”
Camelot schools are well equipped to serve populations in need. Excel Academy of Englewood, for instance, “doubles as a school and a resource center for the community,” according to Sulaiman. Every year, Camelot supplies meals to those in need during Thanksgiving.
But the hardships of the pandemic particularly inspired the school community to take its giving programs to the next level.
“We noticed the need was great, considering that people waited in lines that stretched around the block going back to that first event in the summer,” said Sulaiman. “At that moment, we knew that we would organize more of these events so we can be there for our neighbors throughout the course of this year and beyond.”
Camelot’s Regional Director in Chicago, Kevin Sweetland, anticipates more events in the coming weeks. “There were a number of giving programs during the holidays,” he said. “But since people facing homelessness continue to face challenges beyond the holidays, we want to be there for them all through the year.”
In addition to the giving programs organized by Camelot’s Excel Academies throughout Chicago, Camelot schools across the country organized holiday giving events, including:
- Camelot Academy of Escambia – Partnered with Beta Omicron chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. to provide some holiday groceries to families.
- Camelot Academy of Escambia – The City of Pensacola Fire Station 1 gave out goodie bags to KAPS students for the holidays.
- Thunderbolt Academy – Staff visited students to drop off holiday presents.
- Camelot Academy of Santa Rosa – Students and staff at Camelot of Santa Rosa were able to collect needed items as well as make individual cards and stockings for 56 residents at a local retirement home.
With its commitment to neighbors in need, Camelot Education is showing its students the importance of community service. The result will be Camelot alums who understand the role of service in a well-rounded education.