School’s assistance program helps 60 families for holidays

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Providence Cristo Rey High School is giving its students the Christmases their families may not be able to afford.

More than 60 families are getting food and presents through it’s Christmas assistance program. Dale Illingworth told News 8 that’s he been a “widow parent” to six kids for the last 13 years. He is a substitute teacher, coach and volunteer at the school. Illingworth also has a son attending the school.

“A challenge for me is just making sure that everybody has the same so you don’t feel like one child or another child is getting more. At least they have something. For us sometimes it’s nail-biting at home on just getting clothing. Clothing is a big thing,” Illingworth said.

A local church sponsored his family and got everything they asked for and food for the holiday break.

“It’s been very beneficial,” Illingworth said. “It’s taken a lot of stress and strain off of our families to provide certain things at certain times being stretched so far and thin in between.”

Dozens of local groups, organizations and businesses sponsored a family through the school’s Christmas assistance program.

“They’re programs for Toys for Tots, Shop With a Cop, and those are geared toward really younger kids,” said Margi Crooks, Providence Cristo Rey president.

Crooks said the program has been going on for several years and it’s been a blessing for many students.

“All of our students are economically disadvantage and they have a need not only for things, but also for food and a lot of them are helping their families as well. They might have a job after school so a lot of responsibilities fall on the high school students,” Crooks said.

Families like Illingworth will have a merrier Christmas with plenty of gifts under the tree.

“The school is not just a regular school, besides getting an education they’re actually your family, too,” Illingworth said.

Providence Cristo Rey High School, located on the city’s west side at 75 N. Belleview Place, continues to collect donations to help students throughout the school year.