Community Partners Brighten Holidays for DSCC Families
DSCC families in need receive gifts and necessities from our generous community partners.
Partnerships are a crucial part of our mission to help children and youth with special healthcare needs connect to services and resources. For 80 years now, DSCC staff has developed relationships with social service agencies and community organizations across the state to help improve the lives of our children and families. During this holiday season, we are especially grateful for our community partners who’ve stepped up to ensure that some of DSCC’s neediest families have a merry Christmas.
In the Springfield Regional Office, Care Coordinator Robin Mahnken worked together with the Salvation Army in Jacksonville and her dedicated team of colleagues to deliver piles of wrapped presents for a sick 1-year-old in our program and her three siblings. The girl was born with Down Syndrome and a heart impairment that required surgery a few months later. In November, she developed an upper respiratory infection and was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.
Robin has stayed in close contact with the girl’s mother since her admission to the hospital and learned the family is greatly strained financially. During the first week of December, the mother asked Robin to help find any available Christmas assistance for her children. Though the deadlines for many local charities’ assistance programs had already expired, Robin spoke with a director at the Salvation Army, who made arrangements for Robin to “shop” their facility for items on each of the children’s wish lists while the mother stayed at her daughter’s side in the pediatric intensive care unit.
“I anticipated receiving an article of clothing and one or two toys for each child. I was overwhelmed by all of the gifts selected. Volunteers called to me from every direction suggesting this or that for one of the children,” Robin said. “The director kept telling me I hadn’t selected enough. I left with a carload of toys and clothing.”
With the mother in no position to wrap gifts at the hospital, Robin snapped photos of the items to show the mother and wrapped them herself. Robin saved the little girl’s packages to be wrapped by Springfield RO staff during their holiday party this week. Springfield RO members also donated funds to purchase a Walmart gift card for the family. Robin and her husband, with the family’s permission, delivered four huge bags of wrapped presents and the gift card to the appreciative family on Wednesday night.
At our Lombard Regional Office, staff members have developed a special bond with their building neighbor, Hope Fellowship. This bond was strengthened last year when Pastors Jeff Brewer and Jon Trott helped the office cope with the difficult loss of their assistant regional manager, who passed away unexpectedly in November 2016. The pastors’ support of the Lombard RO has continued ever since and earlier this month, Pastor Jeff asked Program Coordinator Assistant Kim Firkins if any DSCC families in the Lombard office’s coverage area need extra help during this year’s holidays.
Kim worked with the Lombard office’s managers and assistant managers to check with staff for families in need. Staff suggested a total of eight families, and Kim collected information about each family member and provided it to Hope Fellowship. Hope Fellowship’s parishioners purchased gifts for each family member. Their gifts include diapers, wipes, a homemade fleece blanket, pajamas, DVDs, gloves, hats and a generous assortment of gift cards for gas, groceries and various stores and restaurants. Hope Fellowship also provided stockings for each child and parent.
Kim coordinated the receipt of gifts, and Lombard’s Care Coordinators are delivering the items to the families.
Further north at our Rockford Regional Office, a Care Coordinator learned that a toddler was being discharged from a transitional care facility earlier this month after being separated from her family for a year.
“This little one became part of a bustling home of five brothers and sisters who were overjoyed to welcome her home,” her Care Coordinator Shan Johnson said.
On Dec. 14, the toddler’s mother told Shan that she had no Christmas presents for the children.
Shan contacted the Rockford Salvation Army, who “without hesitation” opened their doors for Shan and let her into their warehouse on a Sunday afternoon to handpick gifts for the children. They even provided gift bags.
“I will never walk past a (Salvation Army) red kettle again without thinking about this happy miracle,” Shan said.
A big thank you to these organizations, our staff and all of our community partners for their support and service to our families throughout the year!