CORY WILLIAMS (right) helping Santa’s helpers organize and distribute the $10,000 in toys donated this year to make the Christmas brighter for children.
Thanks to a special friend
‘Twas four-days before Christmas, and Father Michael L. Pfleger and his helpers were busy unpacking more than $10,000 worth of donated toys for members of Saint Sabina they called “blessings for the least of these.”
Thanks to a friend, who shall remain anonymous, Father Pfleger was able to give out $10,000 worth of Christmas toys late Monday night. “Our job every year is to say how can we help people and allow them not to feel like they want to do more for their children but don’t have the resources to do it.
“Our job is to help them with the extra things because a lot of our people live hand-to-mouth,” said Pfleger. “They are just trying to pay rent, buy food, keep the lights and heat on. We don’t give it (the toys) out to the children. We give them to the parents so they give it to the children. The children don’t know where the toys are coming from. We want them to think they are getting it from their parents…. It saves the parents and lifts them up in the eyes of their children.”
Father Pfleger thanked his friend he has known since high school for donating the $10,000 worth of toys. He was the same friend who donated a similar amount for last year’s Saint Sabina toy giveaway.
So far, in just two-weeks, Father Pfleger has given out 300 turkeys and food to the Saint Sabina Academy, 800 community families received turkeys, 400 children received toys, nearly 2,000 attended the Inspiration 1390 Christmas gospel concert; he gave out 2,500 free hot dinners at BJ’s Restaurant and Monday night, he gave out $10,000 worth of toys for all ages.
Father Thulani, who tried to play with the Hula Hoop but failed, said, “This is a day of giving…everyone should enjoy Christmas.” Asked about the Hula Hoop, Thulani smiled and said, “This is the first time I tried this. It is a difficult thing to do…,” he said shaking his head.
With soft Christmas carols playing, volunteers had not only displayed boxes of toys and family games on long tables in the McMahon Hall for church members to select from, but they also offered church members scarves, gloves, shoes and bicycles.
“This is an annual blessing that we do for the church family here. We help those in need. Any time you give away something free, it’s always a blessing,” said Vince Clark, assistant to Father Pfleger. “They are all new toys…always the best for the best.”
Michael Byrd, assistant warden at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and a co-team leader of Lectors and Commentators, said, “It is a blessing because I know folks who can’t do this; so I am going to provide this for one of my friends who has 10 children. I couldn’t afford to this” on his own. He said his friend’s children range from one-year to 14.
Cory Williams, office manager for Father Pfleger and one of several “Santa helpers,” said, “It’s always a beautiful thing to be able to bless someone unexpectedly even though the families know we are having it. We hope they’re able to come and get some nice things for their children…, but it is also about the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving and being able to bless others, other than yourself.”
Tim Allison, an armor bearer for Father Pfleger, said, “It’s always a blessing to give especially this time of the year when you have kids who are unfortunate and families that cannot provide. When the church is able to give back to the community, it’s a blessing.”
Fitzgerald Craan, an armor bearer for Pfleger, said, “I would like there to be peace in Chicago. In order for kids to really enjoy Christmas, if it’s peace outside, I think they will have an enjoyable Christmas even if they don’t have a whole lot of gifts.”
Elbert Freeman, an armor bearer for Pfleger said, “Any time we’re able to give back to the community and people who are in need, that is what I’m all about. That is what we are all about. That is what I love about celebrating Christmas at Saint Sabina.”
Terry Carr, also an armor bearer for Pfleger, said Saint Sabina “is a beacon of hope to the least of these. I am so grateful to be a part of this faith community to see the joy and smiles during this season. It’s so wonderful.”
Leonnie Caillouet, her daughter, Chirskira Caillouet and Margaret Bryant shopped in three’s as did Gwen Green, who runs the church’s Spiritual Connection Gift Shop.