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More than 600 Thornton Township families receive Christmas gifts

Thornton Township’s annual Christmas Care program continues to grow

by Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Ed Lareau, co-director of the Christmas Care program, surveys the more than 4,500 toys that were given out to Thornton Township families. (Photo: Ernst Lamothe)
SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (December 16, 2017) – This year, Antionette Folk-Ervin volunteered to wrap gifts for the annual Thornton Township program that benefits families throughout the community. It was a way for her to give back as she was one of more than 600 families who received gifts from the township for her children.

“This is definitely a blessing that we are so thankful for,” said Folk-Ervin, of South Holland. “We really appreciate everything the township does for us.”

Thornton Township, the largest township in Illinois, gave away more than 4,500 toys and more than 8,000 food boxes throughout the holiday season as part of its annual Christmas Care program.

“This is one of my favorite programs of the year because you truly see how one small gesture can make a family feel so great. In the south suburbs we know the need is great, and we know we can help,” said Ernst Lamothe Jr, Thornton Township Public and Community Relations Manager.

The event took place at the Zuccarelli Assistance Program building, 16910 Westview Avenue in South Holland. The township starts shopping in March for toys in bulk to save money. In the months leading up to the giveaway, the toys are shipped and wrapped, explained Ed Lareau, Special Project Assistant Manager and co-director of the Christmas Care program. “Thornton Township enjoys helping families, and we have incredible volunteers who work hard to make the program run smoothly,” said Lareau. “It’s a lot of work, but it is worth every minute because you are really making a difference in the lives of a lot of people.”

Alex Muse, co-director of the Christmas Care program, saw firsthand the gratitude of families like Folk-Ervin’s. She understands how a timely gesture can make such a significant impact. “Anytime you can do something to make the holidays just a little easier for families in need,” said Muse, “it feels incredible. It’s a great feeling when you see the excitement in a child’s eyes when they see all the wrapped presents, and then you see the parents so thankful that they can provide a good Christmas for their children.”

It’s a tradition that has become a staple of the township’s December programs, with each child receiving at least three individual wrapped gifts. And it will continue to grow in the future.
 “We have seen this program grow from a few kids to more than 600 families receiving gifts,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor. “The community really comes out for this program and we are going to continue having this event for our residents.”

In addition, the township gave families free onesies for newborns up to 24 months. The township is celebrating its residents by having a social media baby photo contest involving the Thornton Township onesies that were given out. They are asking people to post a photo of their child wearing the onesie, along with #ThorntonTownshipBaby. Participants can also email the best photos to Ernst Lamothe Jr. at [email protected] to enter to win a prize.

For more information or to get a free onesie to post on social media, call 1-708-596-6040, x3150.


Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Ernst Lamothe currently serves as Communications Manager for Thornton Township and brings two decades of journalism experience to that role. "I believe it is important to educate and inform people about their world," he says.