NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — For the past 38 years, the Bloomington & Normal Trades and Labor Assembly has teamed up with the McLean County Chamber of Commerce to give children from unemployed and underemployed families the chance to celebrate the holiday season.
Shawn Eiker with Midwest Region Laborers says despite the pandemic, there was no doubt the event would happen, but she knew some things would have to change.
“Normally we’re at Bloomington High School and we have a whole set-up of games and a movie for kids, but this year because of COVID, the Midwest Food Bank has provided us the facility,” said Eiker.
Couple those changes with the transition to a drive through event, and you have the 2020 Christmas for Kids party.
Families were able to pick up a care-package with food and toys, sponsored by multiple local businesses and unions, including Meijer in Normal who donated $1000 worth of toys.
“We normally service around 300 or so kids, and we are over 800 this year,” said Eiker.
Kaitlyn Ryan with Midwest Region Laborers says each year this event provides families with much needed essentials to get through the giving season.
This year with the pandemic causing a financial strain on many families, the need became even greater.
“With the pandemic and the uncertainty of jobs, and parents having to be at home now with kids for schooling, I think that has been a huge factor in the doubling of families,” said Ryan.
Eiker says the best part of the event is seeing the faces of those who are receiving the care-packages.
“We had a couple people stop, and just get pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, we’ve had people just waving like they’re very happy and very appreciative,” said Ryan.