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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Successful West Side Toy Drive Will Make Sure 250 Families Have Christmas Gifts

Marillac St. Vincent needs volunteers and donations of holiday gifts, baby products and food for their annual Christmas Store.

Kids celebrate Christmas at Marillac St. Vincent with Santa.
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GARFIELD PARK — At least 250 families will have plenty of presents to put beneath their Christmas trees thanks to the annual toy drive planned by Marillac St. Vincent Family Services.

The nonprofit has received a surge in donations for their free Christmas Store within the past week, but if the organization gets more gifts, they will be able to serve more families who might otherwise be unable to afford holiday presents. Food donations for the organization’s pantry and baby products for their teen mom program are also welcomed.

Gifts can be sent to Marillac St. Vincent through Amazon Smile. Donors can also arrange a pick-up by calling 773-722-7440.

Volunteers are needed through Friday to assist with sorting the toys and making sure each family gets items that fit their wishlists. To volunteer, contact Colleen Mulcrone volunteers@marillacstvincent.org or call 312-278-4273.

“Christmas is about family and love and community. That’s one of the reasons the Christmas store is really important,” said Deanna Hallagan, director of the nonprofit’s Hope Junior program.

Marillac has been running its annual Christmas Store for the past 60 years to make it easier for families to enjoy the holidays regardless of their financial situations. The giveaway also allows families connected to Marillac’s various programs, like their food pantry or youth groups, to sign-up to get free gifts.

Typically, the 250 families who signed up to participate get to shop around for the gifts they want at the Dec. 18 Christmas Store, which is set up like a toy shop at the organization’s West Side location, the Marillac Social Center, 212 S. Francisco Ave. But due to the pandemic, this year’s Christmas Store will be a drive-through to prevent crowding.

While the drive-through doesn’t allow families to have as much choice as the Christmas Store usually offers, “We’re thankful we’re still able to do it,” said Albert Richardson, director of youth services for Marillac St. Vincent.

There are no spots left on the list for participants in the Christmas Store. But if Marillac St. Vincent receives enough donations, spare gifts will be distributed to other families on a waitlist who still need presents.

“Around the holidays, it relieves some of the stress, especially families with a lot of kids. It’s one less thing they have to worry about,” Richardson said.

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