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posted: 10/31/2012 2:36 PM

Elgin as tourist destination, thriving center for nonprofits

Elgin's Home for the Holidays campaign promotes city as tourist destination, thriving center for nonprofits

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  • Rosemary Holland of Elgin takes a look at the 2006 Festival of Trees display at the Gail Borden Public Library. The exhibit, which moved from its former location at the Elgin Police Department, features trees sponsored by local businesses to benefit the Ecker Center for Mental Health.

       Rosemary Holland of Elgin takes a look at the 2006 Festival of Trees display at the Gail Borden Public Library. The exhibit, which moved from its former location at the Elgin Police Department, features trees sponsored by local businesses to benefit the Ecker Center for Mental Health.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer, NOVE

  • Amy Knorek leads Ursula Wilson and Susan Angell-Case as they cross Grove Avenue moving fully decorated trees from the Gail Borden Library to The Centre across the street. Twenty-six small trees, six large trees and two wreaths were created for the Ecker Center for Mental Health's 2010 Festival of Trees fundraiser.

       Amy Knorek leads Ursula Wilson and Susan Angell-Case as they cross Grove Avenue moving fully decorated trees from the Gail Borden Library to The Centre across the street. Twenty-six small trees, six large trees and two wreaths were created for the Ecker Center for Mental Health's 2010 Festival of Trees fundraiser.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, NOVEMBER

  • Susan Angell-Case gets a case of the giggles while using a book cart to move a Christmas tree from the Gail Borden Library to The Centre in Elgin during the Ecker Center for Mental Health's 2010 Festival of Trees.

       Susan Angell-Case gets a case of the giggles while using a book cart to move a Christmas tree from the Gail Borden Library to The Centre in Elgin during the Ecker Center for Mental Health's 2010 Festival of Trees.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, NOVEMBER

 

As Elgin area nonprofits gear up for the holiday season and end-of-year fundraising drives, they're hoping to get a boost by working together.

The Elgin Home for the Holidays partnership works to collectively promote events of the season and brand Elgin as a destination for holiday tourism. It is organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce.

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"We've always found that events and programs and initiatives have strength in numbers," said Jason Pawlowski, managing director of the DNA. "When we have the opportunity to link the resources and the tools and all the different volunteers that these not-for-profits have available to promote themselves and other organizations, that's something that's very exciting for us."

The Home for the Holidays kickoff event will bring together all two dozen participating nonprofits for an expo where they will have the chance to advertise their organizations, holiday events and volunteer opportunities.

A holiday craft show will feature area vendors with entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides and photos with Santa also part of the event, held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.

The Ecker Center's Festival of Trees always coincides with the Home for the Holidays kickoff. Trees are already on display at the library, where they will remain until they are auctioned off Nov. 10. The festival is the Ecker Center for Mental Health's largest fundraiser of the year.

Karen Beyer, executive director, said participating in Home for the Holidays gives the organization a chance to reach new people, especially at the kickoff.

"We think it's just an important thing to participate in," Beyer said. "One, to let people in this community and wider communities know the neat kinds of things that go on in Elgin and of course it's an opportunity for us to meet face to face with people at times, and in writing, to explain what we do for the community."

Each nonprofit will have brochures with the entire Home for the Holidays events schedule to distribute at their individual events.

Krisilee Murphy, director of marketing at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this year's community promotion is focusing particularly on web-based advertising through Facebook and other social media sites. The cost to participate dropped from $175 to $75 per organization this year, giving nonprofits with tight budgets the ability to continue in the program.

Home for the Holidays' other goal -- displaying Elgin as a holiday destination -- is only possible if enough organizations participate, Murphy said. And reaching that goal is important.

"We want everyone that's here to come to all these events," Murphy said. "It's their hometown and their community, but we also need the tourists to come in. In the end it will end up helping everyone."

Visit elginhomefortheholidays.com for a list of activities -- some ticketed, some free -- in November and December.

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