KANKAKEE – For the 26th year in a row, the Kankakee Valley Beverage Association will be providing Christmas gifts to underprivileged children in Kankakee and Iroquois counties.

And this year, the organization will revert to its traditional format after disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Each year, the association takes disadvantaged children aged 6 to 12 to do Christmas shopping. For six years, the group has been able to provide for the needs of 150 to 200 children on average. This year, the group’s goal is to have 250 children go shopping, according to event organizer Heatherann Low.

“In 2020, with COVID, we were able to help 196 kids with their Christmas wish lists,” said Low, who is an employee of Renville Gaming. “Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, we had to shop for kids and parents picked up the items at Meijer.”

The event will return to its traditional setup this year, with attendees and volunteers observing COVID precautions when shopping together. Shopping for this year’s event is scheduled for December 18 at Meijer’s in Bradley.

The purchases are funded in part by an annual fundraiser called Turkey for Tots. This year’s fundraiser will take place Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Manteno Sports Club.

From November 9, the KVBA will begin registering children for the program; and corporate and personal sponsorships are available now. Sponsorship opportunities start at $ 75.

“Local businesses have really played a central role this year in our ambitious goal of reaching 250 children,” said Low, adding that KVBA has partnered with the Knights of the Innocent ™ in fundraising efforts. “Corporate sponsors have made donations to make sure we don’t leave behind children who really need them.”

Those who wish to sponsor the event or propose a child to participate can contact KVBA. Children 6 to 12 years old can participate.

“We are reaching out to local schools, churches, youth groups, sponsor nominations and our state attorney’s office to pre-register children,” Low said.

Each child is entitled to a budget of $ 75 to purchase their items.

On race day, children are greeted in Meijer with refreshments, candies and treats before a volunteer takes them to the toy aisle.

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