Holiday cookies? Check. Christmas tree? Check. Piles of presents? Check, check, check.
Allendaleâ€™s annual holiday party, held December 11 at its Lake Villa campus, had all the essentials: goodies, games, gifts, and a visit from St. Nick himself. But this wasnâ€™t the work of Santa and his elves. It was the work of the Lake Forest-based Shelter Club of Illinois, Allendale Associationâ€™s largest private donor, which has been improving the lives of Allendale kids for more than 100 years.
â€śWe support Allendale year-round,â€ť said Shelter Club President Jodie Nedeau, â€śBut the holiday party is the highlight of our year.â€ť
Students came bearing handmade ornaments, which they proudly hung on the tree, and sang Christmas carols, led by music teacher Katie Stuercke.
And then there were the presents.
Each Shelter Club member provided gifts for groups of four children, carefully consulting each childâ€™s wish list. This year, they gave gifts to more than 230 children, some who otherwise would have no gifts to open.
On Christmas day, theyâ€™ll provide brunch and gingerbread house kits for the 100+ kids who will stay on campus.
The Shelter Club consists of 70 active members and nearly as many retired members, mostly from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Over the years, they have contributed more than $13 million to Allendale.
Theyâ€™ve funded projects big and small, including the recent construction of Allendaleâ€™s new vocational education facility and the Allendale cafeteria, built in 2008. They provide student scholarships for Allendale students who want to further their education beyond high school. And they engage in thoughtful little activities, like presenting each child with a â€śBirthday in a Bagâ€ť on his or her special day.
The Shelter Clubâ€™s original affiliation with Allendale dates back to the early 1900s when a group of female members from the Childrenâ€™s Hospital Society launched a project to house homeless boys in Chicago. In 1909, the group later joined forces with Edward L. Bradley, Allendaleâ€™s founder, and has remained a steadfast supporter of Allendale and its founding mission to help children and youth in need.
â€śGifts come in all shapes and sizes,â€ť says Mary Shahbazian, Allendaleâ€™s president. â€śThe kids love their Christmas presents, but the Shelter Clubâ€™s gifts to them go far beyond whatâ€™s under the tree.â€ť
Submitted by the Shelter Club of Lake Forest
About Allendale Association
Founded in 1897, the Allendale Association is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to excellence and innovation in care, treatment, education and advocacy for troubled youth and their families. Todayâ€™s continuum of care includes Residential and Day Treatment services that include Specialized Education and Counseling Services, Outpatient counseling and foster care. Programs and services reach children with a broad range of moderate to profound emotional, behavioral, and learning difficulties and challenges with a continuum of care. Currently, the Allendale Association serves over 1,275 children, adolescents, young adults and families in need annually. For more information about the Allendale Association, please visit www.allendale4kids.org or call 847-356-2351.