LAKE IN THE HILLS – Inside the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District headquarters, a small group of volunteers stacked assorted school supplies on tables.
There were stacks of spiral notebooks, boxes of markers, crayons, erasers and pencils, ready to be put into backpacks for youngsters in need.
After it was all organized, members of the Hearts of Gold group began putting the supplies into the bags, which were distributed to 50 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in Carpentersville-based District 300.
The Tools for School distribution is one of the two main activities for the small volunteer group.
Hearts of Gold was started in 2002 after Make a Child Smile disbanded in 2001. The group, which is currently six people, formed as a way to continue to help people in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills.
Volunteers also sponsor holiday giving trees, where they ask people to buy gifts for those in need around Algonquin and Lake in the Hills.
The group works with the Algonquin Area Public Library to collect food.
For this year’s school supply distribution, the group received backpacks donated by Costco. With financial donations, they were able to buy $820 worth of supplies.
Hearts of Gold Vice President Petra Schmid said the group helps people who may have a sickness in the family with medical bills, people who are having trouble making ends meet or those who are out of a job.
“There are people who have fallen on hard times, with no fault of their own,” said Schmid, of Lake in the Hills. “We do basic things, but if you were to add that all up, and they would have to buy that, they would have to spend a lot of money.”
Schmid said the group is limited in what it can do because it is small.
“We need funding. We are small; we don’t have big fundraising events,” Schmid said. “Everything we do is based on what we get from donations from individuals, businesses and some community groups.”
Treasurer Kathy Anderson said families have to requalify each year. Those on state assistance for food automatically qualify for help.
“Because we are solely funded by donations, whether it be from businesses or individuals, we have to do our due diligence,” said Anderson, also of Lake in the Hills. “We’re the stewards of your donated money. We take that donation and pass it on to our clients. We want to ensure we’re helping those who really need help.”
The group used to provide winter coats for those in need, but stopped the project because of a lack of funding, Anderson said.
During the holidays, Hearts of Gold helps about 55 families in its Heart to Heart Holiday project. Volunteers set up 12 giving trees in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills.
The trees have tags with families’ wishes and can range from basic necessities, such as soap or bedsheets, to gifts for teens, such as an iTunes gift card.
They also distribute toys through Toys for Tots.
“It’s important that we help our own community,” Anderson said. “There’s so many organizations that do important things, but I think it’s important for the community to help each other.”
For information or to donate, visit www.heartsofgold-il.org.