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Help make the holidays brighter for area children

students wrapping gifts

Last December, nearly 250 area children received holiday gifts because of the generosity of Illinois State University students, faculty, and staff, and the Holiday Helper program from the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.

The center will kick off the 2018 Holiday Helper program with an open house from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Friday, November 2, at the center, 300 W. North Street, Normal. Stop by for cupcakes, cocoa, holiday cheer, and more importantly, to select a child to sponsor for 2018.

Each year, the center partners with local organizations to identify children in need. In conjunction with each partnering agency, the children and their families identify personal wants and needs. The center then asks Illinois State students, faculty, and staff to help sponsor each child by purchasing gifts for them valuing approximately $50.

The gifts are wrapped during wrapping parties at the center and later delivered at holiday parties held at each local organization.

Partner agencies this year are the Western Avenue Community Center, Unity Community Center, Boys and Girls Club, and the Center for Youth and Family Solutions.

“By participating in this program, you could contribute to making a child’s holiday so much brighter,” said Paige Buschman, AmeriCorp member and graduate assistant at the center. Buschman is organizing Holiday Helper for the second year in a row. “This program wouldn’t be successful each year without the support of the hundreds of sponsors who contribute by providing gifts for kids. ISU faculty, staff, and students really make this possible.”

Sponsorship opportunities launch during the kick-off open house on November 2 and will continue until all children are sponsored. All gifts should be delivered to the center (unwrapped) by November 27.

The wrapping parties at the center are another great way to get involved with the Holiday Helper program. Consider joining the fun as all of the gifts are wrapped and packed! The parties will take place at the center, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 29, and Friday, November 30.

Service opportunities will also be available at the holiday parties hosted by the center at each local organization. More information will be available in November. Please contact the center if you would like to volunteer!

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