Shining moments: Christmas cheer

GIRNEE, Ill. — During the past 10 years, Norma Rosario has watched her one-woman effort to provide Christmas cheer to a few less fortunate children snowball into something really, really big.

In 1996, Sister Rosario learned that many children attending Glenwood School in Waukegan, where she works as the head secretary, would not receive any toys at Christmas. With the help of her family, the lifetime Waukegan resident said she "started off with some gently used toys, cleaned and repaired them, and distributed them to 15 area children."

The next year, she brightened the holidays for 30 children, then 50 the year after that. As word spread about Sister Rosario's project, friends, community members, teachers, school staff and corporations offered their help, and brand-new toys replaced the used ones; new clothing and refurbished bikes, computers and household items became part of the holiday mix.

By 2002, Sister Rosario realized she could reach many more children if she teamed with a larger organization and affiliated with a non-profit organization based in Arlington Heights.

"They taught me how to organize and do the service in a more efficient way, and they helped us bring in many more donations," she said.

This year, social workers and families representing more than 250 children from Lake County will gather at the Latter-day Saint meetinghouse in Gurnee, the local distribution site, to pick up their brightly wrapped presents. — Joanne Osmond, Buffalo Grove Illinois Stake