People throughout the township adopt others whose holiday may not be so bountiful and make an effort to spruce it up.
“People come in and want to know what they can do,” West Deerfield Township Supervisor Julie Morrison said. “They tell us if they want to adopt a senior, an individual or a family. That’s all they know.”
Morrison will let the donors know little more than a family consists of two parents, their clothing sizes and the ages of the children. The secret Santa takes it from there and brings the gifts to the Township office.
Township officials know the recipients by an assigned number. All the packages show is the number and a generic recipient like mother or son. Many of the packages will contain gift cards as well as physical items.
“People put in gift cards to Target so people can go out and buy what they need,” Morrison said. “The more you can empower people the better they feel about themselves.”
Some of the people getting packages are regular customers at the West Deerfield Township Food Pantry according to West Deerfield Township Office Manager Peggy Amado of Highland Park. “It takes a lot of effort to get it all organized,” Amado said. “We see all the recipients of the food pantry.”
Morrison and her staff learn of others who would benefit from the Deerfield Police Department and local clergy. Some donors cling to their anonymity with ferocity.
“One woman came in and said, ‘I don’t want the family to know (the origin of the donation) and I don’t my husband to know.’ She handed me three $100 bills,” Morrison said. “The money will be used for gift cards so the people can get what they need.”
Some of the donors each year are organizations like Walgreens, Astellas and Holy Cross Catholic Church. Student groups from Deerfield High School and Shepard Middle School have gotten into the act as well.
“I made my pitch at the high school and they raised more than $1,000,” Morrison said. “It went for $25 gift cards at Shell, Walgreens and Target.”
The program would not work without volunteers who help Morrison, Amado and their staff organize the effort. One of those helpers is Bailey Ayers of Lake Forest. “I just came over to help out,” Ayres said.