Blisters benefit for Santa helper | Bleader

Blisters benefit for Santa helper


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The Blisters, at Booth One
  • The Blisters, at Booth One
I told the story a month ago of Michelle DiGiacomo, woman in trouble. For the past many years DiGiacomo has operated a charity that collects letters to Santa from needy Chicago schoolchildren and turns them over to Good Samaritans who bring the kids presents. DiGiacomo suffers from a variety of chronic ailments, which are eased, she says, by medical marijuana. But in September, when she picked up a large shipment from California at a UPS outlet and brought it home, she was followed by Chicago police who barged in, confiscated the pot, and put her in cuffs.

Friends rallied round. Among the friends are Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, his wife Susan, and their son Spencer. Spencer took the lead. He established a website headlined "Michelle DiGiacomo Needs Our Help," and it raised a little over $2,300. And this Sunday, November 18, Spencer's band, the Blisters, will headline a benefit at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont.

"She faces enormous legal fees and is struggling to stay afloat, yet she continues to run the charity she founded, Direct Effect Charities," says Spencer in an e-mail. Tickets are $10 online or at the door.

DiGiacomo, whose next court date is November 27, has a lot on her mind. In addition to her legal charges and Christmas program, she's looking for a place to live, preferably around Lane Tech, which her daughter attends. Because of her arrest, her landlord refused to renew her lease. She says one of the 15-some elementary schools where her letters program operates canceled for the same reason.

DiGiacomo didn't take the cancellation in stride. She forwarded me her exchange of e-mail with the west-side school.

"At our most recent LSC council the topic was discussed as well, and parents were uncomfortable . . ." DiGiacomo's contact wrote her on November 9. "The negative publicity involved with you and and your charity make us the teachers, parents, LSC members and administration uncomfortable moving forward with the santa exchange."

DiGiacomo wrote back, "So you are aware, I have been answering your Letters to Santa for many years and I have made it possible for your students to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in Christmas presents . . . Your decision is resulting in a great loss to your students, which I will be sharing in an upcoming television interview. I am certain you will be hearing from the reporter. Feel free to share your story, as I certainly will be."


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