Santa to remain on roof of St. Florian School until community raises $50K more

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Monday, December 8, 2014
Santa to stay on school roof during fundraiser
Students at St. Florian School asked Santa Claus to help save their school this Christmas.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students at St. Florian School, a fixture in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood, asked Santa Claus to help save their school this Christmas. The Catholic institution needs to raise $50,000 to stay open for another year.

Santa received the students' letters and set up camp on St. Florian's roof on Sunday. He plans to remain there - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - until the financial goal is met. But the school said he does need to get back to the North Pole before Christmas, so time is of the essence.

St. Florian was slated to be closed for the 2014-2015 school year in January, after the Archdiocese of Chicago could no longer provide the subsidy the school needs to operate each year.

"We're a struggling community as it is we're like an island in the city that everyone has forgotten about and all. We're surrounding by steels mills, train tracks and the Ford plant, and we need more exposure. We don't the programs the city gets," said Dawn Klein-Pilota, school board member.

St. Florian was one of six schools slated to close this year by the archdiocese. It has been open for 107 years, but attendance has dwindled, leaving enrollment at 107 students this year.

"Santa's help is needed everywhere this time, it's needed here," Santa said.

"You're helping the community stay alive. You can donate one dollar, two dollars, that's one less dollar we have to struggle for," said parent Socorro Elizalde.

So far this year, the school has raised $55,000.

The school said members of the Far South Side community plan to hold a candlelight vigil at the school every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. until Santa comes down from the roof.

To make a donation, visit St. Florian's GoFundMe page, on St. Florian's website through a PayPal account, make a cash donation at the school's main office or mail checks addressed to:

Save Saint Florian

13110 South Baltimore Avenue

Chicago, IL 60633

Donations are tax deductible. To receive a thank you note from Santa, include the name of the recipient and a mailing address.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.