CICERO – Hard times are hardest for those who have less during the holiday season. With this in mind, Morton College nursing student Octaviano “Tito” Perez had an idea. With the help of his fellow students and teachers he’s making the idea a reality.
Last Friday, Perez and his colleagues delivered about 25 baskets of food, each holding everything necessary for a Thanksgiving feast, to Catholic Charities’ offices in Cicero. Catholic Charities then distributed the baskets to needy families in the area.
Health Careers Support Specialist Debra S. Kupec said Perez came to her with the idea and she encouraged him “to roll with it.” Perez developed a flier with ideas on what to include in the baskets for small, medium, or large families and distributed them to his classmates and teachers.
As for the big bird, those who participated donated cash to purchase certificates entitling the holder to a turkey.
Currently, the Morton Nursing Program has about 127 nursing students enrolled and made up of 20 clinical groups. To help with Perez’s project, each clinical group pitched in and made up one or more baskets.
Perez, 32, of Berwyn, has been working at Loyola University Medical Center as a patient care technician and medical interpreter for six years. He has been in the Morton nursing program for two. When he finishes, he would like to become an emergency room nurse.
Perez said he got the idea when he worked as a community events coordinator for Gottlieb Memorial Hospital years ago.
“I was always active in the community, helping the less fortunate,” he said. “I’m always helping out people who need help. One of the big reasons I want to go into nursing is because of my passion for helping out. I eventually want to do house missionary work where you go to [developing] countries and provide medical care.”
Kupec has another explanation for Perez’ s dedication to the less fortunate.
“He did this because he is a kind, caring person,” she said.
Perez said Kupec and Dr. Diane Sarther were very supportive in the project.
“I was very overwhelmed by how many baskets we got and glad to be able to help people, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday,” Perez said.