Rosemont’s Helping Hand Is Hard At Work
By MIRIAM FINDER ANNENBERG
Journal & Topics Reporter
With the holiday season underway, Rosemont’s Helping Hand is hard at work helping local families in need. The non-profit organization provides food and gifts during Thanksgiving and Christmas to Rosemont families requiring a bit of help at the holidays.
The organization has been around more than 25 years and distributes gift cards to families at Thanksgiving and presents to kids at Christmas.
Helping Hand President Rick Drehobl volunteers the time he spends working with the organization and coordinating the Thanksgiving and Christmas programs. His fellow Helping Hand board members Frank Cargola and Dolores Wilson, as well as Sue Leonis, volunteer their time, as well.
“I enjoy it; they enjoy just helping out and seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Drehobl said.
Rosemont’s seniors also get involved, making stockings for the Helping Hand kids and filling them with little toys and fruit. Each child also receives a $20 gift card. On specific distribution days, the kids come to park district buildings and recreation centers to pick up their stockings and toys.
While the number of families in need fluctuates from year to year, Drehobl said the numbers for this year are down, which is a good thing.
“We’re looking at probably approximately 80 families this year,” he said. “And then probably somewhere in the area of 150 kids.”
The organization is entirely donation-based, but many individuals and groups within the community help out. Drehobl said the Rosemont Chamber of Commerce raises money for Helping Hand during its annual Christmas party and Mayor Bradley Stephens donates throughout the year. For example, he has previously received recognition awards of $100 or so and signed over the gift to Helping Hand.
“All these little things make a huge difference,” Drehobl said.
In addition to the holidays, Helping Hand occasionally steps in to offer assistance for families facing various difficult situations throughout the year. For example, if a home becomes infested with roaches or catches on fire, Helping Hand might foot the bill for a hotel room for the family.
Monetary donations are the main way community members looking to get involved can help out.
Helping Hand previously distributed turkeys around Thanksgiving and Rosemont residents would volunteer delivering the turkeys. However, Drehobl found they always ended up with leftover turkeys -- sometimes people wouldn’t be home at the time the turkey was delivered or failed to make it to pick up the turkey. Families found it more helpful to receive a giftcard than the traditional
Thanksgiving bird. This year, families received a $50 Target gift card.