CRYSTAL LAKE – A Christmastime effort that will provide nearly 1,100 families with food, clothing and toys this year might have to drastically reduce that number next year.
Woodstock Rotary Club’s Christmas Clearing House is in a budget crisis. At last count, with eight days until the club concludes fundraising on Saturday, the club was nearly $15,000 short of its $46,000 budget for next year’s effort.
“We tell people we’re fundraising now for next year, and there’s no urgency,” clearinghouse Director Joe Starzynski said. “If we didn’t have funds in place well before, we would be in really big trouble.”
The club raises money for Christmas Clearing House in two ways.
On the day before Thanksgiving and the two days after, members ask for donations outside Woodstock businesses such as Walmart and Jewel-Osco, as well as locations on the Woodstock Square.
The red kettle campaign-like effort raised just less than $9,000 this year, an improvement on the $7,000 it brought in last year.
But the club’s most lucrative fundraiser – appeal letters to business owners and past donors – has been much less successful.
When the event’s organizers met Friday, they’d raised between $31,000 and $32,000.
“That’s a big shortfall with just over eight days to go,” Starzynski said.
Fundraising concludes Saturday, the day the organization delivers its donations to Woodstock families.
Starzynski said he got a $1,200 donation since Friday’s meeting, but the organization still is short of its goal.
A Woodstock resident since 1991 and member of the local Rotary Club since 2005, Starzynski said he hopes people can find it within their means to make up for a slow fundraising season.
He said the slumping donations aren’t characteristic of the community.
“What makes the town great this time of year is people wanting to help people, and caring about each other,” he said.
How to help
Checks can be made out to Christmas Clearing House and mailed to P.O. Box 53, Woodstock, IL 60098. Donations also can be directly deposited to an account at BMO Harris Bank.
Volunteers will bag toys from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Thursday at a warehouse on the southwest corner of Route 47 and Route 14 in Woodstock. From 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, they’ll distribute the toys, as well as food and clothing, throughout the city. No signup is necessary to help with either.
For information, call Christmas Clearinghouse Director Joe Starzynski at 815-245-4954.