Big Hearts of Fox Valley has grown way beyond their wildest dreams. It all started when the Mobley family (Minor, Jennifer, Ethan, and Nicole) first brainstormed ways to reach local families during the holiday season. They knew first hand that not all families had the ability to buy presents for their children and they wanted to find a way to help. The first year, they sponsored families from within their local elementary school. Seven years later, with help from their board of directors, executive committee, D303 staff and a generous, supportive community filled with such big hearts, they now reach hundreds of families living within St. Charles and portions of Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, West Chicago, South Elgin, Campton Hills, and unincorporated Kane County.
This year looks a bit different from years past. The most exciting part is they now have a dedicated office space! This space allows their executive committee to have a dedicated workspace for meetings and to store donations and supplies. Unfortunately, due to COVID19, they are not able to have their annual gift-wrapping party. This event brings hundreds of people together to wrap the gifts donated from wish-list sponsors. Last year, over 800 volunteers wrapped 4000 gifts! 655 children were able to receive presents under their Christmas trees. Community volunteers wrapped gifts, chatted over dinner that was provided by local sponsors, sang along with tunes played by a DJ, had their face painted, and hung out with Santa. D303 employees loaded box trucks to deliver the wrapped presents to the schools for parent pick up. It truly is a spectacular event. While this year will look totally different, they are still tirelessly working to meet the needs of families who live within the boundaries of school district 303 who need a little extra support this time of year. 562 wish lists, representing 232 families, have been filled by community members. Their volunteers have been busy cataloging and adding gifts that were collected during the toy drive. These gifts range from the hottest new toys to classic favorites as well as family board games that are so important to have on hand. The donated toys supplement what the sponsors are unable to buy. Another change for this year is that Big Hearts has a goal of adding a $50 grocery store gift card to each bag so the families can buy food. Being a small business owner, they understand the impact COVID has had on the community. Donations made on their website, along with a matching gift from a community member, have them well on their way. Donations also fund their new initiative, Big Hearts Throughout the Year. This program helps families in need with clothing and necessities outside of the Christmas season. Confidentiality is a priority, so as with the Christmas program, D303 social workers are the main point of contact.
Big Hearts of Fox Valley is run solely by volunteers and relies on donations which can be made right on their website at www.bigheartsfv.org or mailed to their office. Donations raised help to fund the Big Hearts Throughout the Year program, to buy toys and clothing and last minute items to add to wish-list bags, and allow them to take advantage of clearance items such as winter coats that will be given out the following Christmas.
The Mobley family felt that St. Charles was the perfect community in which to raise a family and start a business. They are fortunate to have an amazing group of individuals on their executive committee and couldn’t do this without the ideas, countless hours and support from Ginger Lobliner, Jill Caccia, Kelly Barnes and Laurie Lyons. They are all extremely grateful and humbled by the outpouring of time, donations, and support that the community members including city officials, local police and fire departments have bestowed upon them and their dream: to brighten the lives of children affected by financial hardship in School District 303.