On December 14, 48 volunteers from Redbox joined Chicago Cares to give students at John Barry Elementary school a very special holiday afternoon at the movies!

John Barry Elementary is one of the neighborhood schools located in the Hermosa community. The school facility serves 796 students Pre-K through 6th grade. 95% of the student body is Hispanic and 3.2% is African American, and 92% come from low-income households. Recently Barry was appointed a new Principal, Estuardo Mazin, who has stepped into a position that was held by an interim Principal for four years. With a permanent Principal, the school will have more stability and can develop its long-term goals. The dedicated staff truly believes “great things are always happening at Barry” and would like to see the school continue to grow.

After renting out the nearby Portage Theater, the energetic employees from Redbox began filling the lobby with games, snacks and goody bags. As students arrived, the team from Redbox welcomed them with cheers and high-fives, getting  everyone excited for what was about to happen.

After getting to know one another with a quick ice-breaker game, the students, teachers and staff picked up some popcorn at the concessions stand and settled into their seats next to the Redbox team, ready to enjoy a screening of The Polar Express.

During intermission, students were invited to the lobby, where the volunteers had set up holiday themed games with enough prizes for everyone. Students enjoyed playing Snowman Beanbags, Pin the Tail on Rudolph and an interactive game where teams used wrapping paper and ribbons trying to disguise one another as sparkling holiday gifts. After a few more snacks, intermission was over and everyone was excited to find out what stop was next on The Polar Express!

In a matter of hours, friendships had formed between Barry students and Redbox employees. The students were loaded up with goody bags, a few more high-fives and then sent on their way. An afternoon at the movies is something that many of us take for granted.

For young kids whose families are struggling with employment and financial burdens, an afternoon of fun, games and a movie theater all to themselves serves to remind Barry students that they are still on Santa’s nice list. We’re so glad that our ‘Volunteer Elves’ from Redbox were there to make it all happen!

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