Cantigny's Community Trees reflect beauty, caring

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted11/17/2017 12:32 PM
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  • Dawn Violetto of Child's Voice in Wood Dale decorates one of the Community Trees in the McCormick Mansion at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

    Dawn Violetto of Child's Voice in Wood Dale decorates one of the Community Trees in the McCormick Mansion at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Courtesy of Cantigny Park

  • The Wheaton League of Women Voters tree on display in Cantigny Park's McCormick Mansion.

    The Wheaton League of Women Voters tree on display in Cantigny Park's McCormick Mansion. Courtesy of Cantigny Park

  • This red, white and blue-themed tree was decorated by Naperville Responds For Veterans.

    This red, white and blue-themed tree was decorated by Naperville Responds For Veterans. Courtesy of Cantigny Park

This year's Community Trees display inside the Robert R. McCormick House at Cantigny Park in Wheaton features at least one tree decked out in red, white and blue.

Another is decorated with ornaments handmade by children with hearing challenges.

In all, seven Christmas trees are twinkling and adding holiday cheer to the library, drawing room and hallways at the historic landmark museum, a mansion Col. McCormick and his family once called home.

The annual exhibit opened Friday and continues through Saturday, Dec. 30, at the museum, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton.

"We've been doing this for seven years; 2010 was our first year," said Will Buhlig, interim director of the McCormick House.

Each artificial tree, supplied by Cantigny, is assigned to a charity to decorate and carry out a theme. Strings of white lights also are provided to each group.

The charities selected represent causes that were close to McCormick's heart, Buhlig said.

"Their missions have to align with what the McCormick Foundation gives to -- families, education, veterans," Buhlig said. "We know Col. McCormick loved animals, so we do animal causes."

Each organization receives a $2,500 grant from the McCormick Foundation and all donations received from museum visitors, he said. An additional grant of $2,500 will be presented to the organization that decorates the tree visitors vote as their favorite, he said.

An 8-year-old nonprofit that assists military veterans in need, Naperville Responds for Our Veterans, went with a patriotic tree theme.

"We tried to incorporate as many red, white and blue elements as we can," President Dan Jurjovec said.

The organization helps veterans within a 20-mile radius of Naperville and has served between 100 and 200 veterans since its inception in 2009, Jurjovec said.

"We serve veterans who are in financial need with home improvement projects," he said.

Naperville Responds hires licensed contractors to install wheelchair ramps and repair and replace items such as broken furnaces and water heaters and leaking roofs, he said.

"We're taking care of some significant home repair needs," he said.

Veterans often are reluctant to seek help, he said, so the group reaches out through veterans groups such as the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club.

"They're kind of trained and programmed not to raise their hand and say, 'I need help.' Their pride is on the line," he said. "We're constantly reaching out and connecting with new groups."

Child's Voice, an organization that provides services for children with hearing impairment, is based in Wood Dale and Chicago.

"We teach children with hearing loss how to listen, to speak and succeed," said Dana Petrie, advancement manager.

She said the group decorated a tree with handmade artwork.

"Our kids made ornaments," she said. "This is our first year. We're super excited and very thankful to Cantigny for choosing us."

The exhibit also will include trees decorated by 360 Youth Services of Naperville, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-DuPage, the Wheaton League of Women Voters Education Fund, The Resiliency Institute and World Relief DuPage/Aurora.

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