What an amazing community we live in! The Illinois Valley Santa Holiday event at the I.V. Visitor Center was an over-the-top success. The event was sponsored by Chevron, Yeti Ice Cream, Oregon Cave National Monument and Preserve, IV Yea!, and the I.V. Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers from the Parks Service, Main Street CJ, I.V. Fire Department, City of CJ, the National History Association, and Santa’s elves were on hand to help with set up and keeping the process flowing. Santa and Mrs. Claus (aka Tim and Pam Lenhart) arrived in the IVFD fire engine with loud fanfare. Cars loaded with excited children of all ages were lined up for almost three hours waiting to see Santa and Mrs. Claus. Pictures were taken, cookies baked by Mrs. Claus and cups of hot chocolate were given out. Although it was cold and rainy, my heart was warmed by the look of awe and beaming faces of the children. Over 250 presents were given out. This is more than double the number from last year.
By the end of the first half hour there was no end to the line of cars and the number of presents was already getting low. Just as the moment of panic started to loom, an amazing creative and caring community spirit kicked in. IV Yea! brought in all the toys and gifts they have been collecting for their Illinois Valley Kids Stocking Give Away. Volunteers sat in the Visitor Center packaging up, labeling age-appropriate gifts, and shuttling boxes of gifts out to Santa’s gift line. It truly was a holiday miracle experience.
ow we need your help with more toys to replace the ones for the Holiday Stocking Give Away. Show your love and support for our elementary kids in all the schools in the Illinois Valley. Drop off sites for toys are at the Redwood Service Center, I.V. Redwood Thrift Store, and Bruno’s Cavern.
Keep your eyes open for a 2023 launching of a holiday tree lighting campaign. If you are interested in helping with a Community Christmas Tree Project, contact Megan Pugh at 541-592-3326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be safe out there during these busy holiday times. There are growing concerns nationwide about the rapidly increasing cases of what is being called a tripledemic: the flu, RSV, and COVID-19. The CDC is once again urging the public to wear face masks indoors.