The Holiday and Advent season at Ivanhoe is filled with opportunities to serve others in significant material ways. We partner with Fremont Township in the Share-the-Harvest program to provide Thanksgiving meals for our neighbors in need. And, for more than a decade, we have engaged with Chicago's Night Ministry through our Socktober and the Holiday Stocking drives. But the Avon Kids Christmas Gift program is one that often flies under the social radar.
This extraordinary program is unique to Ivanhoe and has spanned more than five decades. It provides gifts to children that fill their needs and bring delight by providing each child a mix of several gifts meeting their expressed wants, hopes, and, often, necessities. One of the great joys in participating is that each child’s desires are unique, and the scramble to ‘adopt’ a child each year shows that our members take personal delight in shopping for them.
The families share a list of items each child wants with Avon Township administrators, and township administrators compile this into a spreadsheet for Ivanhoe, sharing only the child's first name, age, gender, and four or five desired gifts. No other personal information about the child or family is provided.
Conversely, no information about the donor, or even that it came from Ivanhoe Church, is shared with the family or child. An Ivanhoe member or friend provides wrapped gifts for their chosen child with a name tag showing only the child's name. Avon Township completes the addresses and distributes the gifts. There is a special delight in giving anonymously, knowing that the gift conveys no sense of debt and that whatever the financial circumstances in their lives, they are thought of and cared for.