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Thornton Township Makes Thousands of Families Happy This Christmas Holiday Season

12/20/2017, noon | Updated on 12/20/2017, noon
“We enjoy helping people because that is what local government is supposed to do,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township ...
Volunteers pose with Santa for the 2017 Annual Thornton Township Christmas Care Program.

Thornton Township Makes Thousands of Families Happy This Christmas Holiday Season

Thornton Township, the largest township in Illinois, gave away more than 4,500 toys and more than 8,000 food boxes throughout the holiday season as part its annual Christmas Care program. The event took place at the Zuccarelli Assistance Program building, 16910 Westview Ave. in South Holland. The township starts shopping in March for toys in bulk to save money and then begins the process of having toys shipped and wrapped in the months leading to the giveaway, said Ed Lareau, special project assistant manager and co-director of the Christmas Care program.

“The township enjoys helping families and we have incredible volunteers that work hard to make the program run smoothly,” said Lareau. “It’s a lot of work, but it is worth every minute because you are really making a difference in the lives of a lot of people.”

Ana Gonzalez of Harvey, who has four children, understands that any help during the holidays is appreciated. That is why she remains thankful that every year she can participate in the annual Thornton Township Christmas program that gives out toys, food and clothing to area residents. “The township always takes care of us and the community, this program It really makes a big difference it helps to make Christmas a little better.”

Alex Muse, co-director of the Christmas Care program, saw firsthand the gratitude of families like Folk-Ervin. She understands how a timely gesture can make such a significant impact. “Anytime you can do something to make the holidays just a little easier for families in need feels incredible,” said Muse.

“It’s a great feeling when you can see the excitement in a child’s eyes when they see all the wrapped presents, and then you see the parents so thankful that they can provide a good Christmas for their children.”

It’s a staple tradition of the township’s December programs that each child would receive at least three individual wrapped gifts. And it will continue to grow in the future.

“We enjoy helping people because that is what local government is supposed to do,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor. “We have seen this program grow from a few kids to more than 600 families receiving gifts.

The community really comes out for this program and we are going to continue having this event for our residents.”

The toy and food basket event attracted local television coverage for several hours. “The crowd of children and parents was huge,” added Thornton Township Trustee Joyce Washington.

In addition, the township gave families free onesies for newborns up to 24-months, understanding the need to provide an all-encompassing package of gifts, food and clothing. The township is celebrating its residents by having a social media baby photo contest involving the Thornton Township onesies that were given out.

They are asking the community to post their child’s photo on social media using the #ThorntonTownshipBaby wearing the onesie as well as emailing the best photos to Ernst Lamothe Jr. at elamothe@thorntontwp.com to enter to win a prize.

If you have any questions or would like a free onesie to post on social media call 1-708-596-6040 ext. 3150.

“This is one of my favorite programs of the year because you truly see how one small gesture can make a family feel so great. In the south suburbs we know the need is great and we know we can help,” said Ernst Lamothe Jr, Thornton Township Public and Community Relations Manager.