CHICAGO — After an "urgent" plea to the public last week, Catholic Charities will be able to provide a merry Christmas to 25,000 local kids after all.
The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago's 69th annual toy drive was dangerously close to falling 5,000 toys short of its goal to provide 25,000 needy kids with at least one present to open Christmas morning.
On Friday, the group made a plea to the public to help fill the gap by Wednesday, when the gifts had to be sorted and brought to church-run shelters and social service programs throughout Cook and Lake counties.
The public responded, and now the charity's initial goal will be met: 3,000 toys have been donated, and $35,000 has been raised for the group to buy gifts, Catholic Charities said Wednesday afternoon.
"It truly felt like a Christmas miracle," Marie Jochum, director of volunteer relations, said. "We are so blessed and grateful that the Christmas spirit lives in our community, and every child will have gifts to open this year."
After the public plea Friday, Catholic Charities employees arrived to work Monday to about 1,000 more gifts, and "many" others saying they ordered gifts online that will be delivered to the charity's Downtown headquarters this week, spokeswoman Kristine Kappel said.
The group had realized last week that they were close to falling short, due in part to the loss of some corporate sponsors. After hearing the news, corporations also stepped up to fill the donation gap, including BP, Chicago Bulls, Groupon, Walgreens, Wintrust, Connect Search and Toy Box Connection.
Due to the overwhelming public support, gifts will be accepted through Friday, and can be dropped off at Catholic Charities offices at 721 N. La Salle Street or at a number of regional centers.
The kids who receive the presents are all clients of Catholic Charities endeavors, including some who live in church-run shelters and use other social service programs.
"All of them would not have something else to open this Christmas," Kappel said.
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