Some of the Thanksgiving care baskets Israel's Gifts of Hope have assembled. Credit: provided

ALBANY PARK — Families who have lost a loved one amid this year’s surge of gun violence or the coronavirus pandemic can receive a free Thanksgiving basket from Albany Park-based Israel’s Gifts of Hope.

This is the third year the family-run organization is providing care packages to local families. The organization supporting families affected by gun violence was founded in honor of Israel Aragon Jr., who was fatally shot in Albany Park in 2016.

Dalia Aragon, the group’s co-founder, said this year they decided to expand their outreach to include families suffering loss because of the pandemic.

Around 100 care baskets have been packed that include include wine, fruit, nuts, candles, chocolates, popcorn, hot chocolate, chocolates, soups, cookies, crackers, fuzzy socks, mugs, tea and more, Aragon said. The baskets also include care cards written by community members offering comfort.

“Gun violence is also a pandemic,” Aragon said. “And just like COVID, it isn’t under control. But just like COVID there are certain measures we can take as a community, like getting more violence prevention resources, to try and stop it.”

Families should contact the nonprofit by sending a a message with their name to (709) 669-9948 in order to coordinate the best and safest way to deliver the care package. Aragon said families also can connect via Facebook messenger.

“There’s a lot of need for this in Albany Park,” Aragon said. “People were very generous and donated a good amount of funds to help us put these baskets together. My mom is a total trooper and she’s been putting in hours to make sure each basket is special for each family depending on who the lost loved one is.”

Credit: provided

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