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Dekker: Keep holiday energy positive

Members Girl Scout Junior Troop 61001 dress as toy soldiers for Tinley ToylParade.  |  Julie Dekker~For Sun-Times Media

Members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 61001 dress as toy soldiers for the Tinley Toyland Parade. | Julie Dekker~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:13AM



This is the time of year when stores are crowded, traffic is heavy and everyone is in a hurry. The holidays can leave you feeling tired and looking forward to January.

To me, that isn’t what the season is about. Happily, I have seen a much different energy around our town — a positive energy of people making sure others will have a good Christmas.

The spirit of giving is not just a cliche in Tinley Park; it is the underlying energy of the season. Every school, church and civic group is gathering toys, clothes, food and money to give to people who otherwise would do without them.

On Dec. 1., hundreds of children lined up to be a part of Tinley Park’s Toyland Parade. Children from Cub Scout Pack 365 of St. George Church, Girl Scout Junior Troop 61001, Step Up Dance Academy, TNT Extreme Dance, Prairie View and Fernway schools, and many others dressed in festive holiday clothes paraded down Oak Park Avenue to the Metra station, where each deposited a gift for a child in need.

Those toys are being used by Together We Cope, a Tinley Park-based agency with a goal of providing gifts to 1,800 children. Each child will receive two toys and a pair of pajamas.

As of Dec. 1, TWC had collected enough for 1,200 children. After the parade, it appeared the group was much closer to its goal.

I talked to the fifth-graders of Girl Scout Junior Troop 61001 as they organized their float before the parade. They said they have fun being in the parade and picking out the gifts. Troop leader Amy Frale said this is the fourth year they have participated in the parade.

You can help Together We Cope reach its goal by dropping off gifts for infants to high school-age children. Gift cards are great for teenagers, and pajamas are needed in all sizes. There also is an ongoing need for winter coats, especially large sizes for teenagers.

Drop off donations at TWC, 17010 S. Oak Park Ave., or call (708) 633-5040.

Together We Cope is a perfect example of the energy and generous spirit of the people of Tinley Park. Some 200 volunteers work there diligently to take care of people in need.

Other people who never stop giving are Tinley Park veterans. American Legion Post 615 and VFW Post 2791 will host about 40 recruits from the Great Lakes Naval Academy on Christmas Day.

These men and women cannot be with their families for the holidays. Our veterans want to show them how much we appreciate them and the sacrifices they make. They will give the recruits a great home-cooked meal, camaraderie and fun, plus phone cards so they can call home.

Both posts are seeking donations of food and phone cards, plus people to stop by on Christmas Day to say hello. Call the Legion at (708) 532-1737 or the VFW at (708) 532-2333.

I sincerely hope during this holiday season, you are filled with the positive energy that comes from giving. It is priceless.



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