This year, Antionette Folk-Ervin volunteered to wrap gifts for the annual Thornton Township program that benefit families throughout the community. It was a way for her to give back as she was one of 600-plus families who received gifts from the township for her children.
“This is definitely a blessing that we are so thankful for,” said Folk-Ervin, of South Holland. “We really appreciate everything the Township does for us.”
Thornton Township, the largest township in Illinois, gave away more than 4,500 toys and more than 8,000 food boxes throughout the holiday season as part of its annual Christmas Care program.
“This is one of my favorite programs of the year because you truly see how one small gesture can make a family feel so great. In the south suburbs we know the need is great and we know we can help,” said Ernst Lamothe Jr, Thornton Township Public and Community Relations Manager
The event took place at the Zuccarelli Assistance Program building, 16910 Westview Ave. in South Holland. The township starts shopping in March for toys in bulk to save money and then begins the process of having toys shipped and wrapped in the months leading up to the giveaway, said Ed Lareau, special project assistant manager and co-director of the Christmas Care program.
“The township enjoys helping families and we have incredible volunteers that work hard to make the program run smoothly,” said Lareau. “It’s a lot of work, but it is worth every minute because you are really making a difference in the lives of a lot of people.”
Alex Muse, co-director of the Christmas Care program, saw firsthand the gratitude of families like Folk-Ervin. She understands how a timely gesture at the right time can make such a significant impact.
“Anytime you can do something to make the holidays just a little easier for families in need feels incredible,” said Muse. “It’s a great feeling when you see the excitement in a child’s eyes when they see all the wrapped presents, and then you see the parents so thankful that they can provide a good Christmas for their children.”
It’s a tradition that has become a staple of the township’s December programs with each child receiving at least three individual wrapped gifts. And it will continue to grow in the future.
“We have seen this program grow from a few kids to more than 600 families receiving gifts,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor. “The community really comes out for this program and we are going to continue having this event for our residents.”
In addition, the township gave families free onesies for newborns up to 24-months, understanding the need to provide an all-encompassing package of gifts, food and clothing. The township is celebrating its residents by having a social media baby photo contest involving the Thornton Township onesies that were given out. They are asking the community to post their child’s photo on social media using the #ThorntonTownshipBaby wearing the onesie as well as email the best photos to Ernst Lamothe Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter to win a prize. If you have any questions or would like a free onesie to post on social media call 1-708-596-6040 ext. 3150.