North Aurora Mothers Club helps area needy families
It didn't take long after the North Aurora Mothers Club was formed in 1997 for the group's board to determine a program called Operation Christmas would be a worthy cause.
Operation Christmas, in its 20th year, calls for the club to work with area schools and churches to locate families facing financial or medical hardships, or some type of tragedy, such as a house fire.
The club members move into action in obtaining sponsors to help provide toys for kids, and food and toiletries for the family, to make the holidays a reality.
"It's really incredible," Carriann Boecker, philanthropy chairwoman for the club, said of the gratitude families express toward the program.
"We give each family the opportunity to provide three 'need' and two 'want' items for each child," Boecker added. "Most of these families are so incredibly gracious, sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get five item ideas from them, because they only want one thing.
"But the sponsors involved in the program want to provide more."
The club helped 10 families during the first year of Operation Christmas. That total has risen to between 34 and 40 families, with the club hoping to help as many as 50 soon.
"We partner with the fire and police departments, churches and businesses, and each will sponsor a family," Boecker said. "We keep the family information confidential, so only the club has the family info."
The sponsors are told the age of the children and they go out and purchase the items. Community members help wrap the gifts and drop them off at a participating church of Messenger Library. Club members pick them up and deliver to the families.
Food and toiletries are stored at Firehouse No. 2 on Tanner Road in North Aurora, where club members sort it all out for delivery.
"We load up our cars with the family items and set up a time to deliver to the families," Boecker said. "Sometimes, the family wants everyone there when we arrive. Other times, they want it to be a surprise for their kids."
Either way, the club is making good on its promise of so many years to make holidays brighter for those less fortunate. Club members start their deliveries around Dec. 16, so those who want to donate items or money can still do so.
If you are interested, contact Boecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the '200':
Korean War veteran Ron Singer of Geneva didn't expect his name to come up as an honoree in the Illinois Bicentennial "Honor 200" celebration that took place Monday at Chicago's Navy Pier.
The Honor 200 program, recognizing veterans' contributions considered above and beyond the call of duty, was revealed by the state earlier this year. And the call for local nominees came from the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kane County.
Ultimately, Singer was among eight county veterans who were honored.
"I didn't expect to get this kind of recognition," Singer, a former alderman in Geneva, said. "Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns mentioned it during a city council meeting, and that was really nice."
The 200 veterans from around the state got their well-deserved recognition during the Bicentennial Birthday Party Gala.
Others from Kane County were Ronald Archibald of Aurora, Tommy Lee Jones of Pingree Grove, Herschel Luckinbill of Montgomery and Crag Essick, James Harvey, Alberto Lopez and Joseph McKeown, all of Elgin.
An insane party:
We've seen all sorts of names for holiday events over the years, but it would be hard to match this one: the Insane Candy Cane Breaking Celebration.
This takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the All Chocolate Kitchen on Third Street in Geneva. It's the sixth year that Chef Alain Roby is creating a giant candy cane as part of the city's Christmas Walk, and he's made a party out of breaking it into edible pieces.
In addition, the kitchen is selling Insane Candy Cane hoodies for $30 during the party and through December -- or until they are all sold -- with all of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Last year, the Christmas Walk attracted the most people we've ever seen congregated in one spot over a few hours in the Tri-Cities.
If the weather is cooperating, it should be a great night for Insane Candy Cane and everything else taking place during the festivities.
Helping the authors:
Kim Cook had an idea that might help local children's and adult book authors get more a little more exposure. It was a thought that didn't have much of anything to do with her role as president of the Illinois School Health Association.
It had way more to do with becoming a friend of Tess Bondavalli when they would both be working at the 25N Coworking site in Geneva.
Bondavalli happens to be a partner at Preservation Bread and Wine in Geneva along Third Street.
"She is a huge supporter of authors, and I approached her about this Meet the Author idea to help authors, especially during the holidays," Cook said.
Bondavalli agreed to the concept and it will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in the alley between Preservation and the Chicken Shack, and also on Preservation's outdoor patio.
Eight local authors will sign their books for personalized gift-giving, while families can enjoy snacks, beverages, activities and holiday movies shown on the wood fence in the alley.
Adult beverages are available to purchase.
"It is very difficult for authors to get their name out there, so we wanted an opportunity for that to happen," Cook said. "It also allows individuals the chance to purchase unique books by local authors for gift-giving."
Pizza for the pups:
You can eat some of the great pizza at Riverside Pizza & Pub in downtown St. Charles from noon to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, to help raise money for a Batavia animal shelter.
The Starfish Animal Rescue no-kill shelter is hosting the event, which will feature a bake sale, half-price pizza lunch, a 50-50 and gift basket raffle. The public is invited to the event at 102 E. Main St. Admission is free.
The shelter, 167 Oswalt St. in Batavia, uses a volunteer staff to drive dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from rural Kentucky communities for adoption or fostering in Chicago-area homes. It started operations in 2006, and founder Margie Swift of Plainfield estimates the shelter has saved almost 6,000 animals.