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posted: 1/30/2014 1:25 PM

Hugs & Mugs opens in Hoffman Estates Feb. 1

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  • Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop & Café, 2350 W. Higgins Road, in Hoffman Estates, will host its official grand opening Saturday, Feb. 1.

    Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop & Café, 2350 W. Higgins Road, in Hoffman Estates, will host its official grand opening Saturday, Feb. 1.
    Courtesy of GiGi's Playhouse

Submitted by GiGi’s Playhouse

Hugs & Mugs Gift Shop & Café, a live storefront offering keepsake mugs and other gift items designed by adults with Down syndrome, will host its official grand opening from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2350 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates.

The event will include remarks and a ribbon cutting with Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod, as well as remarks from parents and participants, tours of the store and adjoining National Achievement Center, refreshments, and more.

Participating adults with Down syndrome will oversee all aspects of the store and lead the mug design and production processes, resulting in the creation of their first resume.

Hugs & Mugs was envisioned to be accessible and involved with the community, and capable of hosting various events and activities on any given day. The store will be available for youth birthday parties, customer appreciation events for local businesses, and more.

In addition to custom mugs, Hugs & Mugs will be adding greeting cards and other gift items designed by the adult interns. Mugs can be custom designed for family members, friends and co-workers, business clients and more.

One participant has already received two job offers after graduating from GiGi University, the real-world learning program for adults that precedes Hugs & Mugs. For these reasons and more, Hugs & Mugs is the first of its kind as a community-focused "live learning" program.

As recently stated by the Hugs & Mugs participants themselves:

"We are ready to show you our skills in our new store. We are going to greet you, enjoy with you and take care of you! Please come to our store! We have worked very hard on our store. Our goals are to improve artwork, to teach others how to make mugs, to work the register, and more!"

One participant's parent shares, "It's wonderful to see how (our children) are growing at GiGi's. They need these skills and confidence to survive in the world."

Another mom adds, "I didn't know (Hugs & Mugs and GiGi University) would change my daughter's life this much. She was in a cocoon, and she opened up into a beautiful butterfly. Now everyone calls (Nicole) the butterfly girl!"

Hugs & Mugs will be open five days a week offering gifts from the heart, refreshments and the chance to engage and support adults with Down syndrome as they grow their skills, confidence and achievements. Additional donations are still needed to support the programing and operation of the Hugs & Mugs store.

For information on funding opportunities, contact Development Director Marc Portugal at or (847) 807-3470.

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