Around the Southland: Palos students donate nearly 5K food items, new principal at Marian, and more

Souperbowl of Caring nets over 4,700 donations in Palos Park

Students at Palos West Elementary School in Palos Park prepared for Super Bowl Sunday by holding a food drive to benefit area pantries. This year the school’s annual Souperbowl of Caring generated 4,718 donations for the Palos Township Food Pantry program, an increase of more than 1,200 donations from the 2023 drive.

The annual drive pits grade levels against each other to see which can generate the most donations. This year, the school’s fourth grade classes were the champions, gathering over 1,000 donations and winning a spring tailgate party.

Principal Jennifer Peloquin said the food drive has been a Palos West tradition for over 20 years and is a wonderful way for students to help their community.

“It’s always great to see the enthusiasm from not only the students, but the staff and community members as well,” she said.

Shepard staff join alum for purse drive

Staff members at Shepard High School in Palos Heights joined Shepard graduate Catherine O’Hara in an effort to collect purses to donate to victims of domestic violence. Shepard staff members donated more than 100 purses to the campaign, an annual effort at O’Hara and Friends salon at 70th Avenue and 127th Street in Palos Heights.

The purses, all in prime condition, offer a small kindness, according to a news release from the school. Many victims of domestic violence must leave their residence without notice to avoid further abuse.

Shepard staff members Kathy Lachowicz and Tim Butler delivered the purses to the salon for distribution.

Marian Catholic graduate returns as school’s new principal

Joe Zampillo, a 1989 graduate of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, has been hired as the school’s ninth principal. He’ll officially take the reins for the 2024-25 academic year.

Zampillo, principal of Central Middle School in Evergreen Park, has 28 years of experience in education, including 21 years as an administrator. He previously was principal at Worth Junior High School in Worth.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity of returning to serve the school community that has not only given me so much but continues to be a source of invaluable support,” Zampillo said in a news release from the school. “This marks a significant full-circle moment for me.”

The school will be organizing opportunities for the Marian Catholic community to meet and welcome Dr. Zampillo in the coming weeks.

Ramadan decorating party draws hundreds in Oak Lawn

Richards High School in Oak Lawn welcomed a crowd of more than 300 people to the inaugural Ramadan Decorating Party last week.

Organized by Richards staff member Sara Bages, the event featured free falafel sandwiches, coffee and tea provided by Qamari Coffee Company of Chicago Ridge, and desserts by Selma’s Sweets.

Families could sit and create decorations celebrating Ramadan. The event also featured a photo booth and games for young children and teenagers.

Will County group donates $7K to Lockport school

Taft Foundation received donation from 100+ Women Who Care of Will County

Members of 100+ Women Who Care of Will County gathered last week for a “big check” presentation of $7,200 to the Taft Foundation, a nonprofit that supports programs and equipment for students at Taft Grade School District 90 in Lockport.

The district’s small size limits its institutional resources, so the donation was welcome, representatives said in a news release.

“We are a small group of 9 dedicated members, and it takes a lot of time and manpower to raise over $7,000 in funding by ourselves,” foundation director Christine Jelinek said, noting the funds will be directed toward an art program for primary grades.

100+ Women Who Care of Will County is a philanthropic group of local women interested in supporting communities by contributing to Will County charities together as a group to increase the donation impact. Their next meeting is from 6 to 7 p.m. April 9 at Coom’s Corner, 1225 E 9th St., Lockport. More information is at

‘Blues Brothers’ musicians coming to Joliet History Museum

The Joliet Area Historical Museum, in partnership with Heritage Corridor Destinations, is bringing original Blues Brothers band members Tom “Bones” Malone and “Blue” Lou Marini to Joliet for a Q&A Session at the museum, 204 N. Ottawa St.

An Evening With Bones & Blue will take place at 7 p.m. March 21 in the museum’s auditorium. The musicians will share memories and stories about the making of “The Blues Brothers,” and their years of making music with some of the most renowned musicians in the world.

Admission is $35 for Museum Members and $40 for others. Reservations are at or 815-723-5201. Event proceeds support the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s “Blues Preservation Project” designed to celebrate and preserve the best of the blues and keep the blues alive! The museum is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.

Will County Health Department hosting Food Bank markets

The Will County Health Department will host five Northern Illinois Food Bank Mobile Markets, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. March 21, April 18, May 16, June 14 and July 12.

The mobile market will be held in the parking lot of the Will County Health Department’s main office at 501 Ella Avenue in Joliet. Anyone needing food assistance is welcome to receive free groceries. No ID, documentation or approval is needed. Distribution is on a first-come, first served basis and while supplies last. The market will be a drive-through model and people will not have to exit their vehicles to receive groceries.

More information and resources are at

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