PORTAGE PARK — CVS last month closed its branch at 6355 W. Belmont Ave., leaving a hulking empty storefront along the intersection of Narragansett Avenue.
But the store's manager, with some nudging from Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), made sure part of the store stayed behind.
"We were disappointed that they had to close, but the alderman called them up and said 'Hey, you've got a bunch of school supplies, why not donate them to a school nearby?' " said Justin Heath, Villegas' director of policy. "They said they might be able to save three or four boxes for them."
So Villegas and Heath were surprised to visit Reinberg Public School, 3425 N. Major Ave., on March 27 and find two dozen crates of pens, notebooks, binders and staplers — "basically the entire school supplies aisle," Heath said.
CVS tallied the total retail value of the merchandise around $4,000, he added.
The school will give away some of the supplies as rewards for students with stellar attendance records, and the rest will be saved for the beginning of the next school year, according to Reinberg principal Edwin Loch.
The donation was a welcome surprise for Loch's staff, he said, especially after the school was slammed with a $40,711 midyear budget cut in January — on top of cuts already handed down at the year's outset.
"We've basically been running on bare-bones, so it definitely gives us a boost not to have to spend as much on supplies," he said. "We'd already had to cut back on some things, and every little bit helps."
As for the now-vacant home of CVS, Villegas hopes to attract a "family restaurant" as its next tenant, Heath said.
In February, CVS announced it was closing 70 stores around the United States, including 11 in Chicago. There are still about two dozen stores in the city, according to its web site.
The former home of CVS Pharmacy, 6355 W. Belmont Ave., which closed at the end of March [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]