Despite the cancellation of parades and other major public gatherings around St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls marched ahead last month with its annual fund-and-awareness-raising campaign known as March for Kids.
The campaign, which had gone uninterrupted under a few different titles for the past 25 years, has traditionally centered around volunteers who collected donations on the streets, at schools, churches and businesses, and at holiday gatherings like Chicago area’s St. Patrick’s Day parades. The COVID-19 pandemic made some of the campaign’s more familiar elements unsafe, so we took the effort mostly online this year. Thankfully, March was still a great opportunity for friends to support our mission as all donations made last month were matched by a generous donor.
But we also made sure to offer many chances to have fun in the digital realm as well. For example, Mercy Home’s 8th Annual Poker Night, normally held in January at Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse in Chicago’s Gold Coast, was held as a virtual tournament with chat rooms replacing the familiar felt-covered poker tables. Players still had the chance to compete for $5,000 in prizes and for the grand prize–a one-week stay at the Hakuna Matata Luxury Villa in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. A very special thanks to Board of Regents member Bob Carmody for donating the grand prize and helping us fill our virtual tables.
And it wasn’t just card sharks who stood a chance to win big during March for Kids. Thanks to DuPage Chrysler Jeep Dodge, March for Kids again included a raffle to win a 2021 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4 x 4, with proceeds benefitting Mercy Home. Thank you to everyone who helped sell tickets for the raffle, especially Board of Regents member Rich Daniels, who sold close to 200 tickets!
March for Kids even included an event for craft beer enthusiast when Mercy Home’s Associate Board held its very first “Revolution Brews & Piano Tunes” on March 12. Participants were led by an experienced brew master in an immersive, virtual tasting of Revolution Brewing’s core beers including their flagship Anti-Hero IPA. The event also featured an interactive, live performance by Ben A., “the Piano Man.”
Our friends found other ways to support March for Kids offline as well. As they have for the past several years, councils of the Knights of Columbus Council supported the campaign, including Council #7331 whose members collected donations after Sunday Masses at St Norbert and Our Lady of the Brook Parish in Northbrook and through their Men’s Club’s virtual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. The Council raised $1,356. eclipsing its previous record. Knights of Columbus councils have supported March for Kids for the past several years.
Of course, March for Kids is an effective awareness builder because of our media partners. Helping us get the word out again were ABC7 Chicago, which welcomed Mercy Home onto a Sunday morning newscast and ran PSAs featuring anchor Alan Krashesky. Longtime radio partner US99 also ran spots and our Poker Night radio partner 670 The Score promoted the event on the air as well.
Meanwhile Wintrust leveraged it advertising reach on behalf of Mercy Home’s March for Kids, with billboards, print ads, and broadcast spots encouraging Chicagoans to support the campaign.
The pandemic may have presented some challenges to the way we held March for Kids this year, but thanks to so many great friends, we were able to find a way once again. Thank you to everyone who played any role, including those who spread the word among their networks. It was critical that we keep this annual tradition alive for the benefit of our young people. And we look forward to getting back to marching in next year’s St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrating together with you after at the Post Parade Party at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Mercy Home’s March for Kids has been held annually under different names, since 1996 when it was known as A Touch O’ Green. For ten years, it was known as Shamrocks for Kids before being renamed and expanded in 2014. In recent years, Mercy Home’s March for Kids has involved significant promotion from media and corporate partners, involvement in several area parades and events, fundraisers in restaurants and other business, and hundreds of volunteers who donate their time and energy to help kids at Mercy Home.
To learn more about the history of March for Kids and how we were determined to March on no matter what, check out last month’s Around Our Home podcast.