Equity and opportunity for ALL people isn’t simply about ensuring access to life saving programs – it’s about building quality of life. During the holiday season, when the nights are long and the days are colder, our Adopt-A-Family and Stocking Stuffing initiatives add some warmth and help bring communities together. Throughout the month, we work with participants, supporters, and employees to spread the joy through service, giving, and connection.
Our stocking stuffing and Adopt-a-Family programs are in full swing. With help from dozens of businesses like Salesforce, BCG, the National Association of Professional Organizers, and more, the program will help us provide gifts and necessities to over 1,700 individuals that we serve across Chicago.
We have to say it’s one of the most fun projects we do every year – and Bob Contino from BCG feels the same way. He’s been organizing this huge donation drives for years, and couldn’t see any better way to celebrate the holidays.
“Heartland does such a good job of addressing families with very specific and tangible needs, and it really resonates with our staff to be able to help a family in need during the holidays,” Bob said. “The holidays are typically times when you slow down, gather with family and friends, and really appreciate what you have. When you take the time to do that, you can’t help but want to share that bounty with others who may not be as fortunate.”
We’ve been honored to have young people leading the way this holiday season, spending time after school giving back to their communities. In the Englewood neighborhood, the young men in our RISE program in have been working on a monthlong coat drive. According to Victor, the program supervisor and mentor-extraordinaire, the RISE program gives young men an opportunity to build character and relationships in a supportive setting. This year’s coat drive has also given these young men a chance to contemplate their communities and futures.
“I have a chance to change here, I’ve been able to improve myself here,” said 18-year-old Michael. “This coat drive is going to be so good for people who don’t have anything coming to them during the holiday. I’m proud to be part of it.”
And as recipients of our Adopt-a-Family program, these young men will be enjoying some extra gifts under the tree themselves!
That very same passion to help the community can be found at our northside affordable housing development, Hollywood House. This month, we had young people from Francis Xavier Warde school come to celebrate and sing Christmas carols. For our residents, the extra holiday cheer sparked a whole wave of festivity and fun. For the students themselves, it was a great opportunity to give back.
The Heartland Alliance community is huge, and the holiday season is the perfect excuse for us all to come together, celebrate, and enjoy one another. The young people we serve at our ICC shelter also got a chance to enjoy some extra celebrations, with our friends from the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs volunteer crew joining in for dancing, cotton candy, and tons of holiday treats.
The residents at our Town Hall Apartments – Chicago’s first LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing solution for seniors – enjoyed Christmas carols and personalized portraits, perfect for Christmas cards and wall hangings. The development holds regular get-togethers on an almost weekly basis, but according to Town Hall’s property manager David James, the holiday party is especially important.
“Town Hall is a welcoming home to 79 wonderful residents. Together we have become family. This time of year we come to celebrate life together and reflect on the year that has passed by so quickly before us.”
The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on the hard work our participants have put in through the year and the dedication of our amazing staff. We also want to thank you all for being a part of the Heartland Alliance family and for your generous support. We look forward to the new year ahead, and having you by our side.