Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

by Sheila Noblitt, HSP staff

Last night when the staff and volunteers left the Humanitarian Service Project center, we hoped we had helped as many last minute families in need as possible. After putting out the message to social service agencies, township offices, a local homeless shelter, and a community crisis center, families called us, and we were able to put together packages of new Christmas gifts for their children.

Earlier in the day, Rita picked up gifts for six families staying at the shelter. Other families with transportation fought nasty winter weather to make it to us in time. One mom said, “I hope I can make it. My car’s tires are bald and I’m afraid to drive.” She did make it in time. We witnessed many moms fighting back tears while others just let them flow. Another mom said, “When a neighbor realized we didn’t have anything, he brought over a tree. Now we have gifts to put under it.” We heard our share of sad stories like the mom who fled domestic abuse and was left with nothing for her children.

However, despite their individual situations, the families we saw shared one thing and that was thankful hearts—that someone could help them in their hour of need. Their children would at least have gifts to open on Christmas when other more fortunate children were opening presents. They would have a Christmas after all. They knew someone cared.

We don’t expect families to express gratitude—can you imagine how hard it must be to have to ask for help—but when it comes our way, we feel proud to share it—like this voice message we found on our phone when we returned to work last Monday after Saturday’s food and gift Christmas Offering distribution:
“This is Dana. We just picked up. You guys are amazing! It was above and beyond. You guys are enough to make a mother cry. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for the generosity. Thank you for listening to what the kids wanted. Thank you for being so efficient. Thank you for the people loading our car. Our Christmas is way different because of you.”

This last week we helped more than 200 additional families from our waiting list over and above those already in our programs. We were too tired to tally the exact number, but we figure well over 1,000 children have something to look forward to this Christmas.

We are thankful for the outpouring of support from the community for HSP’s mission to help needy seniors and children. Thankful for all of those who donated new toys and gifts, for those who sponsored families and made financial contributions, for those who delivered gifts and meals to our seniors, for those who came into the center to volunteer, for our drivers who drove all over Chicagoland picking up donations, for the good will we are so fortunate to witness. All of us at HSP are proud to continue the tradition of the Christmas Offering which Karole and Floyd Kettering started 31 Christmases ago.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Amazing Food Donation from Dominican University

By: Eva Karakostas, intern

Shannon Janicki from Dominican University undertook a project with her wonderful students in the "Art of Leadership" class and, together, they collected 2,500 non-perishable food items to donate to us. We are very grateful for this amazing food donation because now we are able to help 150 needy families by giving them 3 weeks' worth of food. Shannon is one of our speakers and helps us connect with schools and other groups throughout the community. In the picture above, it shows just the amount of food and gifts one family got!

A Christmas Wish Coming True!

By Neethu Elengical

Today, Humanitarian Service Project was able to help 157 families on our waiting list for Christmas gifts. This was in addition to the 709 children that we had already helped. On top of that we are trying to help all the people who are calling in asking for our help. We provided gifts for children between the ages of 3 and 15; with at least three gifts per each child. We were able to help children, who without our help would not have received any gifts this Christmas morning. In fact, six of the families we helped are currently living at Hope House, which is the DuPage Emergency Shelter, at Villa Park. We were also able to give brand new winter coats to the children who needed it due to the generous help of Willow Creek Church members. We are very thankful to all the volunteers who came in and helped us distribute all the wonderful presents.

Couple hours ago, I saw one of our volunteers bring out a pink bike and the look on the mom's face when she saw the bike was priceless. She looked really happy and said thank you for your help. I can't imagine how happy the little girl is going to be when sees this brand new pink bike. That look on the mom's face, I think, would make everyone happy who had worked here helping make this possible. Overall, I am very happy to play a very small part in helping make this a very Merry Christmas for so many people.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Volunteers Sharing the Christmas Spirit

By Laura Saad, Intern

On Saturday, December 19th, volunteers gathered at Humanitarian Service Project's center to help distribute food and gifts to 150 families in need. Thanks to the generous support of many donors, families of DuPage and Kane County were able to receive bags of toys for their children this holiday season. Along with the gifts, families were offered a frozen turkey and winter coats. With a blanket of white covering the grounds and laughter in the air, the spirit of Christmas was truly present.

Bright and early, volunteers arrived to ensure a smooth and steady operational flow. Whether working in the warehouse, the loading dock, storage truck, or check-in point, each and every volunteer contributed to Saturday's success. Santa was also present, making his rounds to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Heartwarming Gift from the Willow Creek Church

By: Eva Karakostas, intern

The Willow Creek Community Church made a wonderful donation to us this Christmas by donating over 750 coats for children in our programs. We are so happy and thankful to be receiving such a wonderful gift that will greatly help the children in need.

This Christmas the Willow Creek Community Church focused their holiday initiatives around the theme "Just Christmas" and said that, "this play on words not only represents the reminder to all of us to get back to the original story of Christmas; it challenges us to actively participate in bringing justice to those in our local community who need it." As a church body, Willow Creek engaged in two activities for the "Just Christmas" initiative: Collecting new coats for children in need and serving in their local communities throughout Chicagoland. Our friends at the Willow Creek Church said, "it is our desire to touch 10,000 families with the love of Christ by having new children's coats distributed throughout the city of Chicago and its suburbs." They collected 11,000 coats!

We at the Humanitarian Service Project are very thankful to Willow Creek and their amazing donation which helps our organization by allowing us to distribute warm coats to these wonderful children who need our help.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Great Christmas Event Helps the Humanitarian Service Project

By: Eva Karakostas, intern

The Rotary Club of Wheaton recently held its annual Christmas Inn fundraiser. This event featured dinner, entertainment, a silent auction, a live auction, and a split the pot raffle. In addition, the Rotary Club of Wheaton helps the Boy Scouts of America, DuPage County Convalenscence Center, JUST of DuPage, the Rotary Youth Exchange, and furnishes college scholarships among other projects. The Humanitarian Service Project is one of the non-profit organizations that will benefit from this event by helping out with sponsoring families for our Christmas Offerings. Pictured here are Roger Tully, Wheaton Club club Director and local Wheaton electrician, and Karole Kettering, Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Service Project.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Crafty Christmas Idea

by Sheila Noblitt, HSP Staff

Aurora crafter Stephanie found a creative way to help HSP. She's donating one craft item for our new Arts & Crafts Kits for each Etsy sale she made through last Saturday, a total of 48 items. Her shop QuintessentialQuirks specializes in poptop mini-pin cushions among other cute items. Stephanie and her husband Brian are also planning to donate their time during our upcoming Boxing Party next Sunday.

I marveled at last year's Boxing Party, my first, as a small army of volunteers tackled a mini-mountain of presents, carrying huge bags of toys into the warehouse. Much like a symphony conductor, our Founder and Executive Director Karole took the stage to orchestrate the production. With 30 years under her belt, Karole and company pretty much have this day down to a science much like Santa and his Elves must.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Humanitarian Service Project.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Molly comes to visit!

By: Eva Karakostas, intern

It was an exciting day here at the Humanitarian Service Project as Karole's dogsitter's boxer dog "Molly" came to visit us on Tuesday, December 1st. Molly is a cute and lovable 9 week old puppy and everyone quickly gathered around to see her when she came in for a visit. We love getting visitors here at our center and Molly certainly was a joy to see.

Her Support is "Perfect"!

By: Stephanie Ferrini and Eva Karakostas, Interns
and Shelia, Staff

This time of year, the Humanitarian Service Project counts our blessings and one of those blessings is long time supporter Marylou Johnson. Over the years, Marylou has sponsored several children through our Children's Birthday Project and has been a secret pal for a senior citizen married couple through our Senior Citizen Project. She has volunteered and became a devoted member of our 'Pot of Gold' program.

When Marylou was a teenager, she had a group of four close friends. They were in the drum and bugle corps together. They would sit on the back of the bus and called themselves the "perfects." Fifty years later, the "perfects" still get together for a luncheon every year. This Christmas the group decided that instead of giving each presents, they would donate $54 to sponsor a child in our Children's Birthday Project. Their gift provides a 25 pound box stuffed with new toys, books, stuffed animals, school suppilies, and the party-in-a-bag with the ingredients for a happy birthday party celebration.