The season of giving is upon us with this year’s international day of charitable giving set for December 3. It’s a time to be mindful that those less fortunate need our help and to inspire generosity for others at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season.
But for Barrington Children’s Charities, the season of feeding hungry children in Barrington 220 school district lasts all throughout the year—each and every week of the year. It’s true and still hard to believe. Even though they receive federal free or reduced meals at school, there are approximately 750 children in the Barrington school district area at risk of going hungry over the weekends or during school holidays.
Since 2010 when it was founded by Darby and Tom Hills of Barrington Hills—with a mission to “support and address the social, emotional, physical, and education needs of children,”—BCC has been helping feed as many children as they can through its partnership with the national Blessings in a Backpack program.
Every Thursday at Sunny Hill Elementary School, BCC volunteers mobilize to provide a weekly bag of food staples for the student, with items such as beans, tuna, oatmeal, soup, boxes of macaroni and cheese, and fresh produce. Today, the program has expanded to feed 750 children every week in District 220 at the early learning center, eight elementary schools, both middle schools, and the high school.
BCC also distributes grants on a needs basis. In total for 2019, BCC directed $115,600 toward its Blessings in a Backpack program and other worthwhile community organizations.
To support BCC’s Blessings in a Backpack annual grant program, BCC will host its much anticipated annual Holly Ball holiday gala at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, at Barrington Hills Country Club.
To celebrate the charity’s work, Country Magazine wanted to shine the spotlight on just a few of the dynamic women on the BCC board of directors who dedicate themselves to pursuing the charity’s mission 365 days of the year.
Child welfare has always been on the top of Darby Hills’ list of priorities in life. Before moving to Barrington Hills with her husband Tom and starting their family of five, Hills made a career as an arbitrator, mediator, and Cook County State’s Attorney on behalf of children. “I’ve always been passionate about being the voice for those whose voice is not always heard, especially children,” she says. It was only a matter of time before she and Tom fulfilled their shared dream of starting a charity to heighten public awareness of children’s issues and foster solutions to their problems.
As founder of BCC in 2010, Darby has been dedicated to understanding and fulfilling that mission in the most impactful ways possible, which is why she embraced and brought to Barrington the national Blessings in a Backpack initiative, serving on its board for several years. “Over the last 10 years, BCC’s mission has evolved into an essential needs charity,” she says. “Some of the essential needs we provide are food, eye glasses, dental care, and mental health.”
Darby is also a board member for the Service Club of Chicago, a member of Countryside Elementary PTO, and an active mother to her three children, ages 9, 10, and 14.
“I’m dedicated and passionate about making sure that no child goes hungry in our community and that every child is provided with the necessary resources in order to learn, grow, and become a future leader,” she says. “A goal that we at BCC are working toward in the near future is to expand our food program to include feeding the 750 children on the program during the summer months.
Kirsten Baseley has always been a creative and a giver. So, when she met Darby and Tom Hills, she was inspired and determined to help Barrington Children’s Charities and Barrington area children in need.
Her work experience and position as owner of her own ad agency, Blu Sky Creative, made her the perfect person to help BCC with marketing and branding. “When I was invited to join the executive board, I was thrilled because I had always wanted to help a charity where I could directly see the impact of my efforts,” she says.
Baseley’s position as Vice President of Marketing for BCC allows her to channel her creativity—all pro bono—into ensuring that people understand the needs of community children. She has been the driving force in making BCC’s website robust, manages its marketing and public relations, and helps plan and ensure the annual Holly Ball is successful in order to fund BCC’s important work.
Baseley graduated from Illinois Institute of Art and spent a number of years honing her marketing, branding, and business development skills for ad agencies in the Chicago area before starting her own firm. She spent her youth growing up between Wauconda and Lake Geneva, and now calls Lincolnshire home with her husband, Joe Thaler, and two kitties, Thai and Jackie O. She loves spending time, and traveling, with family and friends, walking, hiking, kayaking, and being active.
“I’d love to see BCC help children in need even more,” she says. “The kids needing food are the ones that can slip through the cracks and each and every child deserves the best shot they can get at life, education, and their future.”
A top priority for Lauren Klauer is to teach her children to be kind, and when they see someone in need, to help. Joining the board of BCC seven year ago dovetailed perfectly with this ethos as does her role, for the past three years, as Director of Events and point person for the Blessings program at Hough Street School.
“It’s been wild to see the growth of the Blessings program over the years, she says. “We’re all volunteers so I’m constantly floored by people’s generosity and commitment, both from the members of our board and the volunteers who show up week after week to pack and distribute backpacks.”
Klauer grew up in Barrington, graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and worked in trade marketing for 14 years before moving back to Barrington with her husband, Michael and two children, ages 7 and 8. She is a devoted mother invested in raising her children to be mindful, generous, and caring people. “I want them to feel loved and to spread it,” she says.
“BCC is ever-changing and our organization has been nimble with regard to growth,” she adds. “I’m currently impressed with how our focus is narrowing from investing in so many District 220 initiatives yearly to largely focusing on feeding children based on the growing need and acceptance of the program.”
Hats off to these amazing women—and to all of the dedicated volunteers and board members of Barrington Children’s Charities—for their hard work and measurable (and immeasurable) impact on the lives of community children.
During this time of year, consider showing your support of BCC by purchasing a ticket to attend Holly Ball, or by making a donation to this very worthy cause. The season of giving will never feel so abundant and blessed.
For more information about BCC and the upcoming Holly Ball gala, visit barringtonchildrenscharities.com.