Traditional holiday giving

Families, businesses, groups make helping others an annual event

On a Wednesday afternoon, Ivy Sagrado was roasting chickens, preparing mashed potatoes and gravy and roasting vegetables.

She was cooking a meal for 50 to 65 people, but it wasn’t for a party.

Sagrado, the office manager for 1st Family Home Health Care based in Woodstock, was cooking a meal to be served at a PADS homeless shelter.

During the annual holiday season, many businesses and families like to find ways to spread the holiday cheer and help those in need.

1st Family Home Health Care sponsors meals at the Woodstock PADS shelter several times during the season.

Sagrado said the business’ first meal this year was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Its second meal was Dec. 11.

Helping people also is a family tradition for Sagrado. On Dec. 11, her family celebrated her sister’s birthday, which was why they decided to cook the PADS meal that day.

“Instead of going out to eat ... we give it back to the homeless shelter,” Sagrado said.

“We’re big on giving back to our community,” Sagrado added.

For 28 years, the First Congregational Church of Huntley has been fulfilling wish lists for the clients at the Pioneer Center for Human Services.

Each year, the parishioners at the church receive names from Pioneer and lists of items the clients would like for Christmas.

Helen Ruth, who coordinates the project for the church, said parishioners have fulfilled wishes for 75 to 120 people every year.

When the wish lists are made available to people in the church, the lists are quickly grabbed up as parishioners are excited for the project every year, Ruth said.

“It makes Christmas very special for all of us,” Ruth said. “We feel we’re enhancing the Christmas of special-needs clients.”

The wish lists includes items such as bicycles, bedsheets, towels, dishes, gift cards to grocery stores or toy stores, winter coats, shoes and DVDs, as the items are for a wide range of age groups.

“Everyone chooses what they can [buy],” Ruth said.

Gifts are then delivered to the Pioneer Center, and social workers then bring gifts to group homes to distribute.

“It’s a well-oiled machine,” Ruth said.

Sometimes service groups use holiday fundraisers to help carry out projects throughout the year.

Every year, the Lions Club of Algonquin raises money with its Christmas tree sales to help fund projects throughout the year. The tree sales are something the club has done since the 1950s, said John Cygan, a club spokesman.

“The same families come buy trees every year,” Cygan said.

The club traditionally sells 160 trees a year for $50 to $100 each and uses the money to focus on projects to help people who have vision and hearing impairments.

“All the money from the sales stays in the community,” Cygan said.

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