ST. CHARLES – Over the past several years, Minor and Jennifer Mobley have collected Christmas presents for many needy children in St. Charles Community Unit School District 303.
They look to expand on those efforts in a newly created nonprofit organization, appropriately named Big Hearts of Fox Valley.
"When we were trying to come up with the name, we were really thinking about how it is such a community effort and how everybody has such big, caring hearts," Jennifer Mobley said. "In years past, people have become big heart sponsors. They take 10 or more children and buy them a gift off their wish list. So that's how we came up with Big Hearts of Fox Valley."
The organization's first fundraiser will be held from 5 p.m. to midnight July 20 at Spotted Fox Ale House, 3615 E. Main St., St. Charles. Twenty percent of all sales from that night will go to Big Hearts of Fox Valley. To make a reservation, call the restaurant at 630-584-2239.
The effort started shortly after the couple opened Excel Automotive Repair in St. Charles in November 2014. Excel Automotive partners with D303 elementary school social workers, who collect wish lists directly from students in need. The wish lists are comprised of clothing and toy ideas.
"Many of these kids are in need of basic things like winter coats and boots," said Jennifer Mobley, founder and president of Big Hearts of Fox Valley.
After receiving the lists, the couple works to find sponsors to purchase these gifts. In 2018, the couple helped get gifts for 443 kids from birth to 8th grade. This year, the couple expects to get gifts for at least 600 children.
The parents of the students don't know where the presents came from. Next year, they plan on including high school students as well.
"They don't necessarily benefit so much from Christmas gifts, but they do need [such things] as warm jackets," she said. "So we're thinking about doing a coat and hoodie event for them in September."
They plan to expand their efforts each year and start holding events year-round.
"In 2021, we're looking to do a pajamas and books event in April for kids from birth through fifth grade," Jennifer Mobley said.
The group also is thinking about possibly expanding its efforts to include other Kane County school districts.
"Eventually, it would be nice to be able to implement this whole thing in other districts, but right now we are just helping District 303 students and their younger siblings" she said.
The community comes together to wrap the gifts. Last year, more than 600 people came together to wrap more than 2,400 gifts. This year will be the sixth year for the Christmas sponsorship and the fifth year for the wrapping party.
"It's such an amazing atmosphere and experience," Minor Mobley said, in talking about the wrapping party. "So many people in our community come together to give back to these young kids. That's what it's about. That's what Christmas should be about."
More information is at the group's Facebook page, @Bigheartsoffoxvalley.