Shoppers stopped and stared as they watched women clad in Chicago Bears jerseys wrapping presents recently at Sam's Club in Vernon Hills.
For the sixth consecutive year, Sam's Club has worked with Off the Field, a nonprofit organization comprised of wives of active and retired Bears players, to help families in need selected by the Salvation Army.
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In total, 20 families in the Chicago area will receive a combined $20,000 in food and holiday gifts, including clothes, personal items, electronics, toys and basic essentials from Sam's Club.
"It is a rewarding feeling being able to get a mattress for someone who needs it. Looking at their needs list, not their wants list, and being able to fulfill that. It is really nice," said Anna-Marie Roach, wife of linebacker Nick Roach.
"With the Bears, they also sponsor families and we get gifts that way. With this one here, it's really cool getting to come together as a group and do it all together."
Thirteen wives and girlfriends of Bears worked with Sam's Club associates and Salvation Army employees to purchase the items from family lists and wrap them for the holidays.
"I think it's great. It's such a tremendous blessing to be able to do this to benefit all these needy families," the Salvation Army's Jacqueline Chin said as she wrapped presents with a couple of Bears wives.
"It shows that we care and that we're all together. That we are caring for these families and that we are caring that they have a great Christmas."
For more than 30 years, Walmart and Sam's Club have worked with the Salvation Army to help support people in need. That partnership will again be promoting contributions to its red kettles as part of the Salvation Army's 122nd annual Red Kettle Campaign that runs through Dec. 24.
All donations made to the red kettles will remain in the local community and help the organization provide food, clothing, shelter, financial assistance and other services to individuals and families annually in the Chicago area.