On December 13th, the St. Charles Convention Center opened to the public for Helping Hands for the Holidays. More than 750 guests, 60% of which were from St. Charles County, joined us to celebrate the holidays.
After collecting donations at several locations such as New Frontier Bank, the St. Charles Police Station, and St. Charles City Hall, we collected 883 coats of various sizes. 763 guests went home with a new-to-them coat, and the leftover coats were donated to Compass Health.
Guests also left with an assortment of personal care items. Thanks to donations from the community, Sam’s Club, and Dollar General, we had 3,500 personal care items to hand out. CAPS students volunteered their time to sort, and items such as shampoo, body wash, deodorant, and toothpaste were sorted into “family bags”. 400 family bags were handed out to households, and each household was also able to take home extra items such as toilet paper, diapers, or feminine products.
While the draw of the event is the coats and personal care items, we also had 16 local organizations as exhibitors. The exhibitors, which included groups like the Community & Children’s Resource Board of St. Charles and Habitat for Humanity, provided valuable information to guests such as Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, WIC, rental assistance, and more. There were also local businesses such as Gabe’s and Dollar General handing out job applications. Barnes Jewish Hospital was also on-site conducting health screenings.
While the evening was valuable for our low-income community members, there was also a chance for children and families to visit with Santa, get a warm holiday meal, take home a new book, and complete some crafts.