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The Salvation Army, donors lend hand for holidays

ST. CHARLES – Angel Ayala said The Salvation Army volunteers get nervous this time of year about having enough food donations.

Thanks to donations from the Kane County Cougars and local attorney Jotham Stein, The Salvation Army had 276 turkeys and side dishes to distribute to families Thursday for Thanksgiving.

“The Lord provides,” Ayala said. “The Lord always provides.”

Ozzie, the Cougars mascot, high-fived and waved at children as families waited at The Salvation Army in St. Charles to pick up their meals.

Ayala, office administrator for The Salvation Army, said families received turkeys and gift certificates to grocery stores.

Some families also received mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

Erin West of Batavia said Thursday was the first time she sought help from The Salvation Army during the holidays.

She said it will help her and her family, including her two children ages 2 and 12, as she gets back on her feet after being out of work for two years.

“I’m able to take what money I save and buy Christmas presents for my kids,” she said.

Kelly Tiberi of Batavia also picked up a turkey and sides for the first time. She said it wasn’t long ago that she volunteered to help those in need.

She said when she fell on hard times recently, The Salvation Army was the only organization that gave her connections to services other than food pantries.

“For years, I used to volunteer. And now, here I am in this mess,” she said. “I think it’s good to see both sides.”

The Kane County Cougars donated 100 of the turkeys, and several members of the Cougars office staff helped. Shawn Touney, director of public relations for the Cougars, said they wanted to help because this is the time of year families are most in need.

Because the Kane County Cougars have been a part of the community for more than 20 years, Thursday’s turkey distribution was a great opportunity for staff to give back, Touney said.

“We’re fortunate to be a part of this,” he said. “We’re really called to serve as individuals and as an organization.”

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