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Colona church prepares gift bags

Judy Smith, left, and her daughter, Laura, at Colona United Methodist Church prepare 150 Christmas gift bags for children along with others for senior citizens as part of a church project spearheaded by the mother-daughter duo.

COLONA — Laura Smith and her mother, Judy, are as excited as any child could be in anticipation of Christmas morning.

The Colona United Methodist Church members led an “Our Community, Our Kids” effort to provide gifts for less-fortunate children in the area. Donations of money and gifts from individuals, businesses and local organizations will make Christmas a bit brighter for 150 children and 10 senior citizens in the Colona area.

“When I wake up on Christmas morning, I will know that 150 kids that live in Colona will have a great Christmas,” Laura Smith said.

“Some of those kids may not have had any gifts if we had not helped out,” she said. “The purpose of Christmas is giving.”

The library, grade school and Dollar General in Colona allowed the mother-daughter team to create what they call “giving trees” with gift suggestions.

“That was a big help,” Laura Smith said. “Our church held a toy drive also, and the Colona Fire Department had a tree up during their recent pancake breakfast.

“We are so thankful to be able to provide at least two items from the toy list from each child, as well as one complete outfit of clothing — shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirt and more.”

The children receiving the gift bags range from infants to high school age. Additionally, 20 gift bags were delivered to senior citizens.

The Colona Grade School provided the names of the children who would benefit from the gifts. The Colona Township Food Pantry submitted a list of senior citizens.

Judy Smith said the project began at Colona Grade School several years ago.

“When the person who started it left the grade school to take another job, our church took over the mission and named it ‘Our Community, Our Kids,’” she said.

“It is not a project of only our church, but it takes the entire community to help make it happen.”

She said tags left on the giving trees let people buy suggested items and ensure every child would receive Christmas gifts.

“We don’t want anyone left out,” Judy Smith said.

Donations for the project, with “Giving Tree” in the memo line, can be sent to the Colona United Methodist Church, 1709 Cleveland Road, Colona, IL 61241.

In addition to the Smiths, other mother-daughter teams from the church helped with the project: Sarah Browning and her mother, Susan Koska and her mother, Kris Rowell; Kim Olson and her mother, Lindy Anderson; and Eleanor Norville and her daughter, Mackenzie Norville.

“Our mission statement at Colona Methodist is ‘invite all to know Jesus Christ as we grow in faith and serve,” Laura Smith said. She added that she and her mother are excited to undertake the same project next year.

“When I wake up on Christmas morning, I will know that 150 kids that live in Colona will have a great Christmas. — Laura Smith
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