The heartland of America has a reputation for having cold winters but warmhearted people. Several warmhearted Riverside residents were shining examples of the positive impact a community has on the lives of those in need. In response to UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago’s Secret Santa Drive this holiday season, twenty-four households in Riverside answered the call, providing a treasure trove of gifts to individuals with developmental disabilities who have no family to brighten their holidays.

These generous members of the Riverside community presented over $2,200 in donations to 16 men with developmental disabilities served by UCP Seguin residing in Riverside, North Riverside, Cicero and Hillside. The holiday wish-lists of persons with disabilities became a reality, as their “Secret Santas” provided them with sweaters, winter hats, flannel pajamas, Bears and Blackhawks sports clothing, board games, a Wii and multiple games, requested books, new shoes, DVDs, a watch, and gift cards. The Riverside residents also contributed cash to purchase gifts for other individuals served by UCP Seguin.

The donations of Riverside community members were part of a much larger expression of kindness to people served by UCP Seguin. Their giving was included in the overall Secret Santa Gift Drive, which benefitted 140 adults with developmental disabilities in need served by UCP Seguin. The Secret Santa appeal itself was one of several special appeals and activities sponsored by UCP Seguin. Hundreds of individuals, businesses, public officials, UCP Seguin board members and staff provided gifts and holiday enjoyment to more than 1500 children and adults with disabilities across the metropolitan Chicago region.

Among these appeals and activities was the 43rd Annual Holiday Party that former Cook County Commissioner Al Carr and his son – and UCP Seguin Board member – Terry Carr and family hosted in December for nearly 500 adults with disabilities. Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski and his wife Cathleen facilitated the donation of space for the party at The MAX Center in McCook. As part of the festivities William Pacella and Pacella Trucking Express donated comfortable long-sleeved t-shirts, while former North Riverside Mayor Richard Scheck, his wife Judy and their family contributed backpacks to make the season merrier for adults served by UCP Seguin. Each year, UCP Seguin participants and their families look forward to this festive party celebrating the holidays, and they anticipation was amply rewarded through Al and Terry Carr and their family and friends.

UCP Seguin’s Infinitec Southwest held its 19th Annual Holiday Gift Drive to brighten the holidays for children with disabilities from area schools and special education co-ops. Nearly 720 children received beautifully wrapped gifts donated by nearly 80 board members, families, friends and co-workers, as well as area businesses, including prominent companies such as DLA Piper US LLC, Tower Watson, Pepper Construction, Functional Therapy & Rehabilitation, Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co., Starbucks, and Walgreens. For many of the children these were the only gifts they received for the holidays. UCP Seguin’s Children’s Foster Care program also appealed to donors to provide gifts to 170 foster children with disabilities and other special needs. Included among the generous contributors were the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, Costco, Toys for Tots, and numerous board members, staff, individual community members and foster parents.

“While the holiday season at times seems too commercial and driven by personal interests, we are heartened by the amazing selflessness of so many people,” stated John Voit, President and CEO of UCP Seguin. “We are so grateful to the countless friends of UCP Seguin – in Riverside and many other communities – for enriching the lives of people with disabilities through this outpouring of generosity.”

For more information on UCP Seguin, please call Dawneen Suriano at 708.222.4251, or visit

UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago believes in a world where children and adults with disabilities achieve their potential, advance their independence and act as full members of the community. We strive to make this world a reality — in Illinois and beyond, for people atevery stage of life — by leveraging technology to provide innovative training and education programs, family support, employment and life-skills training, andresidential services.