ST. CHARLES – Minor and Jennifer Mobley once again hope to bring smiles to many St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 families this holiday season.
From 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, their nonprofit organization, Big Hearts of Fox Valley, will host a wrapping party to wrap more than 4,500 presents for needy District 303 families. The wrapping party will be held at their business, Excel Automotive Repair, 1207 Foundry St., Suite A, St. Charles.
Each shift is 45 minutes long and there are still some openings following several cancellations. To sign up, go to https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2679062/false#/invitation.
To acknowledge their efforts, St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina declared the week of Dec. 8-14 as Big Hearts of Fox Valley week.
"I think it speaks to what we believe Christmas is all about," Rogina said.
The effort to collect presents for needy families 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.
"You look at a lot of the lists and they are very basic needs – just boots and coats," said Jennifer Mobley, founder and president of Big Hearts of Fox Valley. "And I think it's so important that we get them what they need. It works out well. They get what they need and they get a little fun thing too. We decided this year to put board games in every family bag so they can play a game together."
The wrapping party is full of holiday cheer, complete with a face painter and a visit by Santa Claus. There will also be a DJ playing Christmas music.
"It's a great way to teach your kids about the importance of giving back," she said.
In 2018, the couple helped get gifts for 443 kids from birth to 8th grade. This year, the couple is giving gifts to 655 kids, including 65 high school students, who are receiving gift cards.
"If they happened to have a high school child in their family, we didn't want them not to have anything," she said. "So we purchased $50 gift cards for those high school students."
The couple's efforts led to the creation of Big Hearts of Fox Valley, which held its first fundraiser in July at Spotted Fox Ale House in St. Charles. Jennifer Mobley said the creation of the nonprofit group has helped to get its message out.
"The word is getting around this year," she said. "We've had tons of outpouring of people wanting to help. It's been amazing."
And she is amazed at the impact they have been able to make, so much so that they will have to move their wrapping party to a bigger facility next year.
"We're planning to have the wrapping party someplace else next year," Jennifer Mobley said. "We'll still collect all the gifts at Excel and get them all ready to go, but I believe the wrapping party will probably need to be somewhere else next year."
And the group looks to expand its efforts beyond Christmas and help other school districts as well.
"We'd like to do another one to two events throughout the year that are not necessarily Christmas related," she said.