Church parishioners in Lake Villa bring joy to the world
By Long Hwa-shu For Sun-Times Media December 1, 2013 5:18PM
After Sunday Mass, members of Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Lake Villa carry bags of Christmas gifts for needy children to the back of the facility where they will be sorted and checked off as part of Advent Almsgiving. | TINA JOHANSSON~FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: January 31, 2014 3:25AM
The parishioners at Prince of Peace in Lake Villa were in a generous holiday giving spirit Sunday as hundreds brought gifts to the needy.
The gift-giving was part of the Catholic church’s annual drive to benefit One Hope United that cares for foster children in Lake County.
“We’ve been doing this for at least 17 years. It’s part of our way of giving back to the community,” said Father Richard Yanos, pastor of a congregation that has 2,500 families and 9,000 members — many from surrounding communities.
“We want to share our resources with the needy,” he added, pointing out that while recipients may be of different faiths, “we are all children of God.”
Many parishioners brought their gifts, packed in white plastic bags, to the mass, piling them on the altar. After the mass, the bags, numbering more than 400, were hauled to a room where they were sorted.
“They were very generous in giving,” Father Yanos said, praising those who gave and exceeded the recommended $25-$30 limits.
The bags of gifts bore names of the recipients. The bags were to be trucked to One Hope United on Tuesday where they would be distributed to the recipients by social workers.
Rose Ang of Round Lake Beach came bearing two bags — one for a 6-month-old baby and the other for a 3-year-old girl. The bags contained toys, dolls and clothes.
“This is the least we can do to help out,” said Ang who acknowledged that she bought the gifts on Black Friday.
Natalie Brunk, 12, kept her hands full as she carried three bags full of gifts to the sorting area with her parents, Peter and Lori Brunk of Lake Villa.
“This is part of my confirmation,” she said of the carrying chore.
Craig Ulrich, a construction estimator, joined in the spirit of giving by merrily hauling bags of gifts in the church hallway amid a busy, pushing crowd. “Everybody goes over the limits,” he said, letting out an apparent open secret.
“I’m giving back for all the blessings we’ve received,” confessed Arlyn Labtis of Round Lake Beach who came with her three children in tow, ages 3-12.
“I’m teaching my children how to share,” she said.
Anne Fahey, who heads the church’s Christmas Share, called the response to the gift drive “overwhelming.” She said more parishioners wanted to join in to give.
“Without the kindness and generosity of those who give, these foster children may not have a Christmas gift at all,” said Sandi Ingram who co-chairs the program.