PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Two Peoria nonprofit organizations are stepping up to make sure families in need have a happy holiday season.
Friendship House kicked off the holiday season with the 35th Annual Stuff-a-Bus Food Drive in partnership with CityLink. This year’s campaign raised a record 12.47 tons of food and will keep Friendship House’s pantry stocked for eight months.
Marcellus Sommerville, CEO of Friendship House, said the holiday season can be stressful for families.
“Holiday season, there’s some barriers, there’s some challenges for a lot of families. We know that, we’ve identified that, we want to be able to support…If we can provide hope for families and kids, I think its our due diligence and our duty to do that,” he said.
Friendship House’s annual Toy Drive makes sure kids have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning.
“Lots of families enjoy the fact that they can ask for something and possibly get it…Everyone can have a smile and opportunity to have a toy, a bike if they wished or dreamed,” said Sommerville.
Christmas dinner is also taken care of through their upcoming Ham Giveaway on Dec. 18.
“It’s just an opportunity for us to get in front of some of the need in the Peoria community,” said Sommerville.
Neighborhood House is looking out for seniors in need. The Seniors for Santa event on Dec. 4 delivered more than 1,000 gifts to homebound seniors in their Meals on Wheels program.
“It’s a nice way to give back to them on just some basic care needs, some large print crossword puzzles, things like that that just help brighten their holiday season…That wellness check is so important. A lot of our seniors are homebound and don’t often see people outside of our drivers,” said Amanda Rassi, development director at Neighborhood House.
During Neighborhood House’s Angel Tree event on Nov. 19, they are providing Christmas presents to more than 100 kids from their afterschool programs and Big Brother Big Sister. Each gift is wrapped with the child’s name on it.
“To take that extra step and really ensure those extras – the toys, the gifts, things like that that are not necessarily vital but so important to mental health and wellbeing all year long. So it’s nice to be able to support that need as well,” said Rassi.