Tis the season to give back

Local Charities prepare for their winter season

Winter is a time when loved ones come together, and share the holidays with not just our family and friends but our community too. Here are just a few local charities that are beginning to prepare for their annual holiday events as the season for giving back begins!

Catholic Charities is a non-profit organization that uses its resources in efforts to support sick and low-income families. During December, the charity holds an annual Christmas gift program for people across Lake County, Catholic Charities donates toys, clothes, and other household items to thousands of families in need during the holidays.

Jim Wolgan, head management of the Christmas gift program in Lake County, estimates “this year [Catholic Charities] will probably have between 9,000 and 9,500 people to support”.

Catholic Charities, though it follows Catholic values, welcomes all backgrounds and beliefs. “If somebody were to ask us what percentage of people we help are Catholic, no one would be able to answer that because we don’t ask that question to anybody. Whoever knocks on our door, that’s who we help,” said Wolgan.

“[You] can use [your] funds to buy gifts for someone less fortunate… or you can volunteer,”
described Sue Fowler, the team member responsible for volunteers.

Anyone can donate and/or receive help from Catholic Charities; people can gift items, volunteer time organizing gifts for families, and help pass out items once they arrive

During the second week of November, Vernon Hills High School hosted a coat drive with Mothers Trust Foundation, a non-profit that provides immediate assistance during times of crisis to low-income children living in Lake County, Illinois. Students throughout the school gladly donated their old jackets, hats, and coats to keep children warm during the winter.

”It was really nice to have a bunch of [National Honors Society] members participate, especially ahead for the holidays, and when the weather starts to get colder people now have winter gear,” stated Ethan Kniznik, National Honors Society’s director of service.

Even though the drive through the school is over, the Mothers Foundation could always use more warm clothing and jackets for those who need it most during this time of year.

Hawthorn Cares is an organization whose main goal is to assist elementary students and their families throughout District 73. Gabriella Cervantes, contact and spokesperson of District 73 families, stated their mission is to “bring comfort to families to feel welcome and comfortable coming to us when they have those kinds of needs”.

Year-round Hawthorn Cares helps to support families during temporary hardships by providing “basic needs like hygiene products, like regular everyday essentials,” explained Cervantes.

This past November, Hawthorn Cares held a food drive and provided Thanksgiving dinners for over 100 families. This December, they are organizing a holiday gift drive for students in need across the district, to make their holidays special. People can donate gifts for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

From Lego sets to Barbie dolls, this program gives back to over 300 children at schools that many VHHS students attended. As Wes Polen, a school board member and volunteer, put it herself “It’s truly going to be a community-driven program that benefits the needs of the students”.