ST. CHARLES – While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a dark shadow across the country this year, the nonprofit group Big Hearts of Fox Valley hopes to brighten the spirits of many St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 families this year.
“There’s so many families that are hurting substantially this year,” said Jennifer Mobley, founder and president of Big Hearts of Fox Valley. “It’s been a really rough year for a lot of families.”
Volunteers recently distributed Christmas presents to families in need. This year, 562 children will receive an abundance of gifts.
“We ended up passing out 6,862 gifts to those children,” Mobley said. “Last year, we had right around 4,000 gifts and we had 655 children. The reason why we had more gifts this year is because we had so many people offer to shop for children. Everybody really went above and beyond.”
With the pandemic preventing the group from hosting its annual wrapping party, Big Hearts of Fox Valley volunteers, together with District 303 staff, recently distributed the presents to families. Wrapping paper and tape along with a $50 grocery store gift card were included in each bag of gifts.
The families receiving the gifts signed up for a time to drive up and pick up their gifts.
“We had about 80 families every night,” Mobley said. “It worked out really well. We’ve gotten really positive feedback from the families. It was a nice way to do it.”
In previous years, the wrapping party had been at Excel Automotive Repair in St. Charles, the business she owns with her husband, Minor, who is a co-founder of Big Hearts of Fox Valley.
Excel Automotive Repair partners with D-303 social workers who collect wish lists from students in need. The wish lists are clothing and toy ideas.
The families were appreciate of the group’s efforts.
“It gave them hope and they were very, very grateful,” Jennifer Mobley said.
Besides Big Hearts of Fox Valley’s annual Christmas gift sponsorship program, the group also buys clothing and toiletry items for District 303 families in need as part of its Big Hearts Throughout the Year program.
“We’re always in need of donations,” Mobley said.