Thanks to our generous donors, we’re entering a new year and a new decade on a great foot! Children’s Home & Aid staff statewide were busy this December working with kids, families, and partners to ensure every child we serve had a bright holiday season.

This year in our Metro region we partnered with 39 companies and countless individual donors for our 2019 Holiday Gift Drive. Generous donors sponsored kids and families by fulfilling wish lists submitted through schools and Children’s Home & Aid programming, which included community-based behavioral health, Parents Care & Share, and foster care services. This year, partners including Exelon, Hyatt, Aon, ITW, William Blair and PricewaterhouseCoopers sponsored over 1,200 child, sibling, and family wish lists – totaling nearly 2,000 kids plus additional gifts for parents and caregivers!

The Chicagoland Holiday Gift Drive would not be possible without the incredible volunteers who spent more than 60 hours on site at our holiday headquarters. Volunteers from the White Sox Volunteer Corps, as well as 7 of our corporate partners including CDW, Axiom Law, and Credico, helped us to move, sort, and wrap gifts, ensuring every child and family we serve had their needs and wishes fulfilled for the holidays. We truly could not have accomplished this massive gift delivery without their support!

For children and families who entered Children’s Home & Aid services during the holiday season, several generous partners including the Chicago Cubs, BMO Harris Bank, Showpad, CDW, and Strata Decision Technology also collected hundreds of items by hosting Essential Needs Drives. These items, which included everything from therapeutic toys to kitchenware, were distributed across Children’s Home & Aid programming to ensure every child and family within our care received gifts for the holidays.

The holiday fun doesn’t stop at the Holiday Gift Drive! This year, in the Chicago area, we hosted our 29th annual Snug Hugs event, where the winter season was made warmer for the children and families the Mitzi Freidheim Child & Family Center serves thanks to our long-time partner, Merlin 200,000 Mile Shops! Merlin collected new and like-new winter items at their shop locations across Chicagoland and caravanned from Chicago’s western suburbs to the Mitzi Freidheim Child & Family Center in Chicago’s Englewood community to deliver more than 50 boxes of coats and winter clothing. Nearly 200 families were able to shop for winter items due to the generosity of Merlin’s staff, volunteers and customers, as well as the hand-made items donated through our Crochet & Knit-A-Thon held in early November. Thanks to everyone involved, Snug Hugs 2019 was an overwhelming success!

The Chicago White Sox also hosted children from our VIVA and Englewood home visiting programs at Guaranteed Rate Field on December 13 for lunch and a day of fun. In total, approximately 100 kids, siblings and parents attended. Parents were able to select a gift to have wrapped for their child while kids made crafts. Afterward, everyone enjoyed a lunch of ballgame favorites including hot dogs, chicken tenders, macaroni & cheese and desserts. Post-lunch, children received a new winter Sox hat and then played fun games – some kids even hit a few practice balls.

Children and their families got to meet Santa in the Sox locker room. Santa had the wrapped presents that were selected earlier, and called children by name to come up and get their gift and take a photo. One little boy was so excited to see Santa – he asked if Santa remembered him, and Santa said ‘of course I do’!

On top of all of this fun and generosity, the Sox lit up the park with a sign welcoming Children’s Home & Aid and had everyone take a group photo with Santa before the day ended.

Thank you all for your generosity this holiday season! Both our staff and the children and families we are privileged to serve are incredibly grateful for your gifts and support.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!