Head Start Kids Benefit Dec. 2, 6:30 p.m. at Village Green Golf Course
Funds raised this year will go toward classrooms in Head Start programs in Gurnee, North Chicago, Waukegan and the Paul Kennedy Child Center at the James Lovell Veterans Affairs Medical Center, North Chicago. More than 225 children ages three through five will receive holiday gifts and clothing from the fund-raiser.
The Santa Cause is a group of Lake County volunteers who help brighten the holidays for low-income children. Each year the group has a fund-raiser to purchase holiday gifts for area children who are less fortunate.
When Santa Claus arrives to hand each child their personalized gift bag, the smiles alone are worth all our efforts.”
After several years of having holiday gatherings, in 1998 the group decided that in lieu of grab bag gifts for each other they should bring a $10 gift for a child. The response was overwhelming, with people arriving at the holiday party with bags full of toys. This was the beginning of the Santa Cause.
Over the next four years, the Santa Cause grew in participants and they were able to donate gifts to several different groups including A Safe Place, Allendale Association, and Parenthood for Dignity.
By 2003, the group had grown, along with the donations, and it was time to expand. This is when they discovered Head Start, the federal comprehensive child development program which focuses on increasing school readiness for children.
The first year with Head Start, the group sponsored two classrooms and 35 children.
Santa Cause volunteers begin in October coordinating with Head Start teachers to get lists of boys and girls for gifts and clothes. Funds raised are used to purchase gifts — a clothing item, two to three toys and an educational item for each child. After the gifts are purchased, the remaining funds are used for classroom necessities, books, games and office supplies.
The gifts are then wrapped, put into a personalized bag for each child and loaded into a donor-supplied truck nicknamed “Santa’s Sleigh” for the week. Santa Claus visits each classroom and personally hands each child their gift bag.
“When Santa Claus arrives to hand each child their personalized gift bag, the smiles alone are worth all our efforts,” said a Santa Cause helper.