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Authentic Generosity: Reflecting on a Year of Thoughtful Giving to 155 Families and Seniors

Hello and Happy Holidays,

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2023 is authentic, with one of the definitions being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Well, true to your personality, spirit and character, you have all been amazingly generous, thoughtful, supportive, gracious, tenacious (deliverers, you know who you are) and all around amazing.

Our sincerest gratitude to all of you for sharing your generous gifts, time, and talents with 155 low-income families and seniors, encompassing over 650 people, the most we’ve had in over a decade. Hundreds of thoughtfully chosen gifts purchased by Secret Santas were delivered to our recipient families last Saturday, along with all the food, toiletries, fresh fruit, and extra toys we add to each Christmas Basket.  

We have already received a few thank you notes. Here’s one that sums up the sentiments of appreciation and love the families and seniors feel because of your time and generosity:

“Thank you very much for all the gifts. Thank you for the beautiful work you do. Thank you for giving love to families. Thank you for giving happiness to the children. May God bless you always. Merry Christmas 😊”

We give families the opportunity to write a thank you to their Secret Santa and we will forward you a copy if we receive one from yours. We added a webform for them to submit one electronically this year, so we are hoping to get some that way as well. Some families have limited English or are uncomfortable writing and may choose not to send one.  Please know, and the social workers confirm, that they are extremely grateful even if you don't see it in writing.

Christmas Baskets is an enormous undertaking. We have so many people to thank!

  •  Everyone who adopted families or seniors. There are not enough words of thanks to express how much we appreciate the countless hours you spent planning, shopping, wrapping, and organizing to ensure your adopted family has a very Merry Christmas.

  •  Super Thursday volunteers. Our Christmas Baskets program is only successful because of the help of the countless volunteers that wrap toys, organize food and toiletries, run back and forth throughout the gym all day long in preparation of Delivery Day.

  •  We extend our sincere thanks to Parkview Community Church for graciously hosting us year after year. Their space is absolutely perfect for our whirlwind of a service project that starts as an empty gym at 7 am on Super Thursday. Throughout the day, it transforms into a bustling Santa's workshop, culminating in  The Glen Ellyn chapters of Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club, and the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry for making it possible to offer food and grocery cards to the families. Offering food assistance is an important part of our program.

  • The Glen Ellyn Fire Department delivers to so many of our recipient families every year.  Their incredible team handles load after load of gifts and amenities galore and we genuinely couldn't complete the deliveries on Delivery Saturday without their invaluable support.

  • The Glen Ellyn schools and businesses that host our annual toy drive and to all the community members that donate toys to our drive, including:

  • Abraham Lincoln Elementary

  • Spring Avenue and Main Street Rec Centers/GE Park District

  • Parkview Elementary

  • Churchill Elementary

  • Arbor View Elementary

  • Westfield Elementary

  • Two Hound Red Brewing Co. (86 Pennsylvania Ave, Glen Ellyn)

  •  Barberia, Inc. (805 N Main St, Glen Ellyn) who offered free haircuts to anyone who brought in a toy donation.  By the end of the toy drive, the collection box was overflowing and bursting at the seams.

  • Glen Ellyn Pediatric Dentistry (45 S. Park Blvd. Suite #105 Glen Ellyn) who reached out to their patient families, encouraging them to take part in our project.  It took 3 trips to the car to get all their toy donations packed up for the church.

  • Various church groups, neighborhoods, and companies who held private toy drives

  • Glen Ellyn Newcomers who kindly include our toy drive in their annual Breakfast with Santa each year. The toy donations from their annual holiday tradition are indispensable to the success of our drive.

  •  Suzanne Carty and the Glen Ellyn Woman's Club for supporting our project and volunteering to wrap gifts for hours upon end

  •  Christina Lund with her girl scout troop from Ben Franklin and Amanda Wagner with her 3rd grade girl scout troop from Forest Glen. Those girls are amazing!

  • Stephanie Stephen with an enthusiastic group of boys from the Titans basketball team and the Kenilworth Avenue book club who bagged and distributed toilet paper in record time!

  • Heather Fanning with Carey, Fiona, Mary, Leyton and Harrison, who helped organize produce and whatever else needed organizing!

  • Colleen Tate and her 3rd grade girl scout troop who came in at the tail end of the day and finished up all our wrapping needs.  Those girls wrapped anything not nailed down and we greatly enjoyed their infectious enthusiasm.

  • The social workers, student services staff and family liaisons who identify recipient families and help communicate with them. They are an integral part of our team.

  • Elizabeth McGann and Glenbard West’s Student Council for hosting a toiletry drive for the families. These extra items are a wonderful addition to our baskets.

  •  Jim McGinn and Andrew Hughes of Combined Sales for donating cases of toilet paper – such a necessity!

  • And the women of the Glen Ellyn Junior Woman’s Club for their tireless work on this project. We are a small but mighty group that makes big things happen for our community.

Every year, your involvement in our program brings more than just gifts to the families and seniors. It brings them encouragement in a time of struggle, a sense of belonging to our community, the feeling that someone cares about them, faith in humanity and most of all HOPE during the holiday season, which we hope extends into their future.

We are extremely fortunate to be able to coordinate this project with the participation of such a generous and supportive community. We sincerely hope you enjoyed your experience and will consider joining us again next year. We wish you a healthy and happy new year filled with the blessings of family and friends.

In gratitude,

Lynn Lullo and Dawn Cassata on behalf of

Glen Ellyn Junior Woman’s Club

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