Gifts for Cuba

Gifts for Cuba

School was out for Prospect students and staff because of the freezing temperatures and snow pouring down. Senior Julia Valentini was enjoying her day off and having dinner with her mom. They started talking about colleges and the University of Chicago was brought up. Valentini remembered that her World Religions teacher John Camardella’s wife Lindy is currently going through cancer treatments at the university. Together, they came up with the idea of getting his students to band together to get something for Lindy Camardella. 

She was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago that has now expanded to her lymph nodes and she has been going through a national trial for her cancer. She ended her last treatment of that round on January 25 and has another 6 months left of treatment. 

Valentini emailed some of Camardella’s coworkers and friends for help. She emailed Jenna Sandstead, Michelle Fonsino, and Brad Rathe asking how they could help. Valentini with the help of some of her friends in the other World Religions classes sent out an email to all of his World Religions students asking for their help. Around 50 students from all different classes pitched in to help buy a gift basket for Lindy Camardella. The students either Venmo’d or gave cash to Valentini to buy the basket. Although a smaller amount of students donated individual donations on average were around $50 -$100; in total they raised about $1,100 for the gift basket.

“It was super nice,” Valentini said. “Honestly the donations were a little bigger than I expected from fewer people. A lot of people care about Camardella and the ones who do want to donate a lot.”

 Throughout the week Valentini and her friends went to buy several different items to put in the basket including a blanket, chocolates, teas, a mug, a coloring book, colored pencils, hand lotion, and a book of gift cards to a variety of restaurants, grocery stores and gas cards.

 On January 26th, Valentini and a group of around 15 students gathered in the commons at 8:15 to surprise their teacher with the gift basket. The students walked in as a group leaving Valentini with the basket in the back into Camardella’s classroom. Camardella was helping some students with college scholarship essays in his room and his daughter Peyton, a freshman, was also in the room. Camardella and Peyton were both surprised by the gift from his students. 

“[Camardella and Peyton] look at each other and that’s when I was like oh my god I’m so happy that we were able to do this for them,” said Valentini.

 As he opened the basket he kept on showing each item to his daughter and thanking all of his students for their thoughtfulness and generosity. 

“I was able to try and thank them in person,” said Camardella. “I was a little overwhelmed at the moment but we were able to go out to dinner at Emerson’s and felt normal again. That was all thanks to the generosity of the religions kids.”

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