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Mary’s Mission hosts holiday giveaway for those in need

Volunteer Deshaun Scott 20 Waukegan helps hout toys through Toys for Tots distributiMary's MissiWaukegan Sunday Dec. 23 2012. | Ryan

Volunteer Deshaun Scott, 20, of Waukegan helps to hand out toys through a Toys for Tots distribution at Mary's Mission in Waukegan on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 24, 2013 2:09AM

DeShaun Scott, 20, is too old to play with the hundreds of toys he helped to sort, bag and distribute for the annual holiday giveaway sponsored by Mary’s Mission in Waukegan on Sunday.

Raised in foster care and juvenile homes, Scott, who has lived at the mission for the past month, recognizes that it’s time to put away childish things and face the realities of adulthood. He will be emancipated in three short months from the state system that took the place of the parents he never had.

He’s looking for a job. He needs a new place to stay.

“I don’t know what’s next,” Scott said over the hubbub of hundreds of people who streamed into the mission two days before Christmas. “I know it’s a harder life.”

It was ironic that the boy who grew up on such meager Christmases was now surrounded by 6,000 toys donated by generous strangers. But the holidays have held more painful reminders than magic for Scott.

“I used to see kids with their parents and I pictured myself,” Scott said. “I could care less about gifts. Christmas is about family — having people who care about you.”

Mary’s Mission, 642 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., offers an open door where others are closed.

“There are so many people who need so much help,” said Pat Fuentes, one of several state welfare employees who volunteered at the mission on Sunday. “Mary helps people who don’t meet the criteria set by other agencies. She helps people who can’t get help other places.”

Mary Lacey, a former foster mom and gospel singer who has held the giant Christmas party on Waukegan’s South Side for the past 25 years, said donations for the event always seem to arrive at the last minute.

“I had just 25 baskets from the Navy when Michael (Patrick, a volunteer from Zion) showed up with a truckload of stuff,” she said. “It’s amazing how God provides.”

This year’s largess, which lined halls and spilled out of rooms in the 35-bed mission, included medicine and cosmetics.

Donna Wypych’s feverish grandson Christian, 5, clutching a new stuffed puppy and Star Wars toys, received a dose of ibuprofen before leaving the mission.

“We’re so grateful for the help,” said Wypych, of Waukegan, who is also raising grandson Dylan, 4. “We wouldn’t have Christmas without it.”

Tazariana Wright 8, who seemed blissfully unaware of the financial and personal struggles of her mother, Tanyatta Peterson, 23, of Waukegan, said she hoped to receive “a doll (that) you can do her hair, Playdough, books and a white board ­­— ’cause I need somethin’ to write on.”

Asked about Santa Claus, who had just “ho-ho-hoed” his way through the crowd, Tazariana cast a skeptical glance.

“I didn’t hear any reindeer,” she said.

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