My heart was overwhelmed with the kindness I saw during this Christmas season in North Riverside.

First, the mayor and village board still had in the budget 100 live tabletop Christmas trees, which are given to one person chosen on each block to brighten the holiday. Some were recovering from a stroke, one was fighting against cancer, some had lost a close relative to death, others were welcoming a new life – but all were so happy that they were remembered in this simple, but meaningful way.

Other residents donated gift cards to local stores. Our mall, even in tough times, still gave us mall gift cards for residents in need. Classic Cinema also gave some passes to our residents. Other individuals from our town gave Super Tony’s gift cards. One friend from Riverside also shared the desire to help others and donated money so we could buy Aldi gift certificates. Sawa’s in Broadview generously gave restaurant certificates.

Two residents adopted families and met their needs through money and gift certificates. One family donated a Wii system to a family in the next town where we heard the dad had had his food stamps cut. Others baked cookies and visited the homebound in town. One lady gave gold jewelry which she said we could sell for cash. With that we had an additional $150 to help families with financial troubles.

Another friend from Melrose Park suggested to her friend who has a Christmas tree lot to donate five trees to those without decorations. Our Public Works Department was sent to pick them up and they were given. One lady was so grateful she sent photos of her kids and said, without the donation, she could not have had a tree at all for the kids.

Hearing about the random acts of paying off, I decided to lean one tree next to a stop sign with a note saying, “Free, please take me.”

Within twenty minutes, a person stopped and picked up the tree to surprise his family.

Sue Frampton, our recreation director, set up boxes for Share your Soles, the Hines Fisher House, Food Pantry of Riverside Township and Constance Morris House (together with our Komarek school). Other residents brought lotions, jewelry which was donated to the British Home outreach for Christmas baskets for the homebound in neighboring communities.

I just felt the need to share these acts of kindness, because they helped me see the generosity of those who still continue to think about their neighbors in difficulty and made a difference in so many lives.

In fact, one lady from Riverside, who needed a ride to the hospital to visit her husband in hospice, was so touched by North Riversiders and Riversiders who drove her, without even knowing her before this time, that her faith in humanity was restored. She was so touched by their kindness and knows even now she is not alone.

So I want to thank all those who lived the true meaning of Christmas. Those from town, those friends from neighboring towns – all together you have made a real difference and lived the true spirit of Christmas.

Carol Spale, coordinator
Mayor’s Committee of Neighborhood Services
North Riverside