Two REALTORS® use college connection to help kids at elementary school


(l to r) Julie Dorger, Sara McCarthy and fellow volunteer Maureen McGaha briefly stopped working during last year’s party at McCutcheon Elementary School to show their holiday spirit.

On Dec. 10, Illinois REALTORS® Sara McCarthy and Julie Dorger will officially extend their streak to nine.

On that day, they will play leading roles in the events surrounding McCutcheon Elementary School’s ninth annual holiday party/coat and boot drive. Located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, McCutcheon serves a large number of low-income families. McCarthy, fellow members of a Boston College alumni group and Dorger organized and supported the coat drive, then helped it grow.

“Two-thirds of the students at McCutcheon come from nearby homeless shelters,” says McCarthy. “So in many ways, this is the only holiday celebration many of these kids will have. But every year the support we receive gets better and better. We have people who donate throughout the year.”

Using their business and personal contacts, McCarthy and Dorger found corporate partners and expanded the annual project to include:

  • a boot drive for the neediest of students,
  • arts and crafts,
  • face painting,
  • board games,
  • a photo booth,
  • Reiki massage for parents,
  • donated pizza and dessert, and
  • a gift shop for kids to pick out and wrap gifts for family and friends.

Last year, McCutcheon students prepared a thank you sign for the adults helping with the special event.

Since one of the corporate partners coordinates the coat drive now, and a local Girl Scout troop is supplying clothing and warm-weather accessories for the students, McCarthy and friends concentrate on the boot drive, relying on teachers to identify students and get correct sizes for those students. Then volunteers shop for the boots, deliver them to the school and are personal shoppers during the holiday party.

“We can’t take credit for everything,” says McCarthy. “It truly is a team effort.”

As an example, she says a client of hers who lives close to the school leads the neighborhood association in decorating inside McCutcheon the night before the party. “People help us do it every year, and they know they have a role to play. It’s so nice that so many people are willing to help. It is the best day of the year!”

In addition to helping at McCutcheon, McCarthy has been helping with a reading/literacy program at North River Elementary School called Reading Buddies through Open Books Literacy Nonprofit. Once a week, she visits with a second grader and a third grader who can benefit from one-on-one assistance.

“I love it,” she says. “It’s been a fun experience.” Find out more about this program at

In addition to her work for McCutcheon Elementary, Dorger also donates time to her church and is president of her condo association.

McCarthy and Dorger are brokers and co-owners of the Dorger McCarthy group (Coldwell Banker Residential – Chicago).

McCarthy became a REALTOR® in 2004 and is a member of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®. Dorger joined the Illinois REALTORS® in 2004, too.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong

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