Kindness and goodwill abound in the suburbs, just as an Arlington Heights man predicted.
"People are pretty good if they just get the chance," 90-year-old Walt Meder said.
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How to donateTo make a tax-deductible donation, send checks made out to WINGS - Daily Herald Hope for the Holidays, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006-0280. The deadline is Dec. 17.
After Meder, who describes himself as forever affected by the small kindnesses he was shown as a youngster growing up during the Depression, spurred a Daily Herald fundraising drive to buy toys and gifts for children and families at a Palatine-based emergency shelter, readers have donated $18,332 in just two weeks. That total includes Meder's initial $1,000 donation.
Readers can make tax-deductible donations through Dec. 17 to the Hope for the Holidays campaign inspired by Meder.
Funds will be used to buy gifts for children and families in need served by WINGS, a nonprofit agency that provides emergency shelter, temporary housing, education and job help for suburban women and their children.
So far, 341 families and individuals from around the suburbs have donated to Hope for the Holidays. Praise of Meder's generosity is a common theme among the letters that accompany the donations.
"What a wonderful soul you must be," one donor wrote in a note addressed to Meder. "Because of people like you, eyes light up with happiness and hearts sing with joy."
Meder approached the Daily Herald about starting the campaign and gave the initial donation. WINGS officials said the money donated will be used for a variety of gifts ranging from toys to more practical items for older children. The agency was started for victims of domestic violence, but agency officials said there are "always more kids than adults." At any given time, the agency is helping 80 to 100 families.
Basia Sobus, owner of The Toy Emporium in Park Ridge, said her store was happy to step forward to offer gifts at a discount.
"If it's for kids that are in need, I'm more than happy to do that for them," Sobus said. "I always love sponsoring and giving money and buying things for kids in need here and around the world. My heart is in that."
By accepting donations of money instead of toys, the Daily Herald will be able to purchase specific gifts on the WINGS list. The Daily Herald will print a special thank-you ad featuring the names of donors, as well as a list of the gifts purchased.
To donate, send tax-deductible checks by Dec. 17 made out to WINGS -- Daily Herald Hope for the Holidays, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006-0280.