25 Days of 25 Reasons to Celebrate 25 Years of Christmas in the Wards
This year Christmas in the Wards turns 25, and we invite YOU, our friends, sponsors, and supporters to celebrate year 25 with 25 days of 25 reasons to support Christmas in the Wards. More than ever Christmas in the Wards’ mission to serve communities and the diverse families and students that comprise them throughout Chicago matters. Historically marginalized, hard to count (HTC) communities know all too well the impacts and realities of disinvestment. Today, the reckoning of a pandemic widens the disparities to resources that provide services, programs, and education to those same vulnerable communities, families, and students.
25 Days of Christmas in the Wards
Join us as we count down 25 days before Christmas on the Christmas in the Wards Calendar and celebrate Advent with a look back at our history, ways to serve in 2021, and continuing our mission to build a brighter future to come.
Click to reveal a Christmas in the Wards fact or inspiration.
The Reason For The Season
A Message From Our Founder
Christmas in the Wards’ continues its mission to broaden its reach and serve the diverse and culturally rich communities and the families and students that comprise them throughout Chicago. Historically marginalized, hard to count communities know all too well the realities of access gaps in goods and services, inequities in resources, and the struggles of resiliency in their neighborhoods.
We know that families strive 365 days a year, yet the strains are felt most during the holiday season, what we collectively call “the most wonderful time of the year.” As disparities widen for so many our mission deepens to bridge the gaps through clothing and essentials for families, laptops and tutoring services for students, food and nutrition support, and special gifts from Santa to aid families, ease burdens, and spread the true spirit and meaning Christmas in the recovery of a pandemic.
Our first Christmas event in 1996 was in a small gym for approximately 50 south side, Englewood families supporting the community that nurtured me as a youth. Twenty-five years later we annually serve 1000s of families at McCormick Place and Soldier Field across Chicago’s south, west and north sides from 100s of communities.
2020, our 24th year was a year of innovation, resiliency, and a reimagined Christmas in the Wards filled with Christmas joy that met the need and challenges rising from the pandemic. This year Christmas in the Wards will expand our reimagined events and platforms in continued support of Chicago families and communities. We hope you join us!
Our motto is it takes a city to do what we do, and with your support, our mission continues.
Service to the Community Award
Julia Stasch our 2020 Service to the Community Award Recipient
Every year we honor a person, group, or organization who exemplifies service and unity to the people and communities throughout Chicago. In 2019 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
received the 1st Christmas in the Wards Service to the
Community Award to recognize her commitment to justice, equality, and unity to all people in Chicago’s diverse communities. We are honored to announce Julia Stasch as our 2nd recipient of the Service to the Community Award.
We’ve adopted a motto from Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” From our beginnings serving the Englewood community to now, 24 years later serving 30 wards all sides of Chicago, our mission continues to positively impact and transform the lives of underserved families and students throughout Chicago during Christmas and year-round. We have found ourselves in this work. Christmas 365 programming is our goal, and Julia's leadership, generosity, and life-long service is the personification of our values and reflection of that mission.
What We Do
Each year we work with our civic leaders, schools, business, and community partners throughout Chicago to bring the spirit of the season to hard-working families, deserving students, and our youth. We dedicate 100% of our resources for the sole purpose to serve.
We accomplish this by selecting with our aldermen over 100 deserving families each year from the wards of Chicago who would otherwise go without not only toys-but essentials like food and clothing. We partner with civic leaders and public officials like Congressman Rush each year to give over 50 laptops to college-bound freshman who achieve academic excellence in their secondary education and students who excel in extracurricular endeavors. In 2016 the entire Wendell Phillips Academy football team, Chicago’s first public school team winning the state football title, received laptops from Christmas in the Wards.
"When we join hands, remembering the gifts that we have been granted throughout our lives, we can similarly be of service and ensure that the spirit of the holidays remains alive for all, no matter their circumstances. From a small Englewood gymnasium to a city-wide celebration of community, Christmas in the Wards is an annual testament of the power of generosity. Happy Holidays and may your new year bring you love and happiness."
— JB Pritzker
Governor, State of Illinois
“I am grateful to celebrate another holiday season with Christmas in the Wards. Now in its 23rd year, this is a tradition I look forward to each year because of the joy it brings to communities while also providing vital opportunities for scholarships, education tools, and technology to transform lives.”
— Toni Preckwinkle
President, Cook County Board of Commissioners
“I encourage everyone to take the time to think about how you can be a better neighbor to those in need and to reach out and volunteer in your neighborhoods and across the city to help everyone enjoy their own holiday season as best they can.”
— Lori Lightfoot
Mayor, City of Chicago