Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dec. 17: Gift-Mart at Brady and Bardwell

The City of Aurora is hoping to brighten the holidays for local families in need with its support of the East Aurora Gift-Mart and Toys for Tots campaign organized by the Fox Valley Marines.

The 9thannual East Aurora Gift-Mart program is seeking to collect 10,000 new toys and assemble 1,000 volunteers to conduct toy sales at Brady and Bardwell elementary schools Saturday, Dec. 17. More than 100 area churches and businesses are partnering with Community 4:12 and East Aurora School District 131 for the events.

A separate Gift-Mart will be offered for the first time in Indian Prairie School District 204 at Georgetown Elementary School. As in years past, every parent with a student from Rollins, Beaupre, Brady or Bardwell elementary schools – and now Georgetown as well – will be invited to shop at one of the Gift-Marts set up in a school gymnasium.

By selling donated toys for $2 each, parents that might not be able to purchase gifts for their children will be able to do so at an affordable price. All proceeds from the toy sales will be split among the partner schools to help fund school improvement initiatives. During the past several years, more than $50,000 has been raised for District 131 schools through the Gift-Mart program.

The Gift-Mart offers children’s activities and entertainment, including a visit from Santa Claus. Free gift-wrapping and refreshments also will be provided to patrons.

“I’m continually amazed by the spirit of cooperation that exists within the City of Aurora,” Mayor Tom Weisner said. “To collaborate like this to collect $100,000 worth of new toys year after year for struggling families to provide for their children and then distribute them in a way that raises money for East Side schools is really a great program.”

The public is invited to participate in both toy drives. For the East Aurora Gift-Mart, new, unwrapped toys valued between $5 to $20 should be dropped off by Thursday, Dec. 15 at the following locations:

  • Fred Rodgers Community Center, 501 College Ave.;
  • Aurora City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place; or
  • The City’s Customer Service Center, 3770 McCoy Drive

Some of the area churches that are involved in leading this effort are Community Christian Church, Orchard Valley Community Church, Wheatland Salem Church and Hope Tabernacle Community Church. Top business partners and sponsors include Target and Starbucks as well as many other Aurora area businesses and non-profits – many of which are also drop-off sites – such as Rush Copley Medical Group (and Healthplex), Airtastic Play Land, Athletico, Aurora Skate, Best Buy, Blueberry Hill Pancake House, Cafe 2, Dance Dynamics, DeSarge Danceworld, Jersey Mike’s, Kindercare, Rito’s Mexican Restaurant, The Town Bar & Grill, Vaya Group and the East Aurora School District 131 Board of Education.

For more information about the East Aurora Gift-Mart or to make a tax-deductible financial contribution, visit www.communitychristian.org/giftmart.

Details about the City’s support for the Toys for Tots campaign will be posted on the City’s website, www.aurora-il.org, when they become available.

Dec. 16: Winter Garden of Youth art opening

Aurora students with a flair for creativity will have their work highlighted in the Aurora Public Art Commission’s 14thannual “Winter Garden of Youth Art.”

Children from kindergarten through high school will have their artwork showcased from Friday, Dec. 16 through Friday, Jan. 20 at the Art Commission Gallery at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place. The exhibit will kick-off with an opening reception scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 16 with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus also on hand to visit with younger children.

The presentation features a total of 160 pieces of art from 32 schools, including a variety of mediums such as paintings, drawings, printmaking, photography, sculpture, collage, computer arts, jewelry and ceramics. All works in the display have been selected by art teachers or other school faculty members.

Participating schools in the “Winter Garden of Youth Art” are:

  • High schools: Aurora Christian, East Aurora, Marmion Academy, Rosary, Waubonsie Valley and West Aurora;
  • Middle schools: Jewel, Simmons, Waldo and Washington;
  • Elementary schools: Allen, Aurora Christian, Annunciation, Bardwell, Beaupre, Brady, Dieterich, Gates, Greenman, Hall, Hermes, Hill, Johnson, Krug, McCleery, Oak Park, O’Donnell, Rollins, St. Peter, St. Rita of Cascia; and
  • Other: Fox Valley Special Recreation Association and Wright Home School.

Admission to the reception and gallery exhibit is free. The gallery will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 28-29; and Jan. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20.

The Aurora Public Art Commission is a civic organization dedicated to the preservation of public art in all of its forms. For more information on the Commission or the gallery, visit the City of Aurora’s website at www.aurora-il.org.