MORRIS- The Third annual Grundy County Heroes & Helpers holiday shopping spree brought Christmas to over 110 children this Saturday at the First Christian Church.
More than 50 heroes and 75 helpers from all over Grundy volunteered to ensure each child has a magical Christmas and a positive interaction with local heroes.
Heroes & Helpers is a nonprofit group started by Wendy Briley after her husband Ken Briley become Grundy County Sheriff. The couple wanted to do something positive for the community and the focus to be on underprivileged children. After looking at what was already available they found that no community was holding a shop with a cop event and decided to include police, fire, and E.M.T.
All of the children who come to the organization have experienced some type of trauma. They do not necessarily have to be poverty level. Some children have survived cancer, grandparents may have taken custody, or the parents could be in jail. The purpose of the event is to uplift those in need and ensure the children experience positive interactions with first responders.
“ Most children’s first interaction with a first responder is traumatic. We wanted to give local children the opportunity to have a positive interaction, so if there is an event where a hero is called the child is not afraid because they have a positive memory associated with them,” stated Trimberlie Jahn, Secretary for Heroes & Helpers.
This year Heroes and Helpers was able to raise an astounding $60,000 dollars from various entities, such as the drawdown fundraiser in October and various community donations throughout the year. The donations funded the $150 shopping spree, a huge assortment of toys, breakfast, and lunch. But, it was the anonymous donation that helped make this year extra special. This year every child was able to leave with a bike!
” We only focus on a one day event. So, we shop and fundraise all year round for one day. We are strictly a one day event with the heroes. The community is so generous. The whole goal is to see these heroes have a fun day with the kids,” stated Wendy Briley.
At 8:30 a.m. the children began shuffling in, full of excitement for the days events. They were placed into categories and given a hero to spend their time with. Children ages 3-15 waved goodbye to their parents and loaded the first bus in eager anticipation.
Once they returned from their shopping spree, the children were welcomed back by parents, heroes, and volunteers. The children handed off their purchases to their parents to load in their vehicles and went to pick out a bike. But, the excitement was not over yet. After they had loaded their new bikes, an arrangement of toys welcomed them. Each child was able to hand pick a variety of toys from each section.
The families, heroes, and volunteers enjoyed hotdogs, chips, cookies, soda, and water for lunch.
“ Everyone is is having a hard time and the fact that community is able to give back and allow these kids to have a decent Christmas is the best, “ stated Brian Kasher patrol officer with the Channahon Police Department.
Source: The Daily Chronicle