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Lagattolla: Bell-ringing a wonderful holiday experience

After spending a fulfilling two hours manning a Salvation Army red kettle Saturday afternoon in front of Ream's Elburn Market, I was greeted by Carol Alfrey from Conley Outreach. She came to retrieve the kettle, which was packed with donations from generous customers.

We took down the kettle, and Carol held it as we chatted for a few minutes on our way out. And still, customers continued to put in their donations. The sincere generosity was overwhelming, and being a bell-ringer was my favorite experience of the holiday season.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work two-hour shifts on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon in front of Ream's, which clearly is the best place to be during a holiday weekend in Elburn. Customers were lined up outside the doors at times, but they were happy and smiling, for the most part. And they also were eager to give to The Salvation Army.

If you've never had the privilege of being a Salvation Army bell-ringer, it's an experience I'd recommend. It certainly was a cold weekend, but it never felt uncomfortable. And I really felt as if I was serving a purpose and doing something to help others. I worked three bell-ringer shifts this season – the two days at Ream's, as well as an earlier shift spent at The Blue Goose in St. Charles, with Kane County Chronicle Editor Kathy Gresey.

Also, I enjoyed the opportunity to collect toys for the Tri-Cities Salvation Army's Toys for Kids program, run by Jim Wheeler. The toys help provide some fun for youths who otherwise might not have received such gifts for Christmas.

Holiday Bingo

The Elburn Lions Club has planned a Holiday Bingo event, starting at 5 p.m. Friday. Early bird games begin at 6:30 p.m., and bingo and raffles start at 7 p.m.

There will be an ugly sweater contest, a white elephant gift exchange and a food and cash bar with specials.

The Lions Club is at 500 Filmore St., Elburn. Proceeds go to Lions Charities. For information, call 630-365-6315.

Meet me at Elburn's library

At 6 p.m. Jan. 15, I'll be at the Town and Country Public Library, 320 E. North St., Elburn. I'm hoping to meet with those who are interested in sharing story ideas and providing feedback and learning more about the Kane County Chronicle and our Kaneland Edition.

We're always looking for news items, and if you've got an event going on or just some exciting news, we want to know about it. Or, if you just want to get in the paper, come ready to do a Face Time (which appears on page 3 of the Kane County Chronicle).

Feel free to just show up, but if you have ideas you'd like to discuss, go ahead and contact me.

EEI gives back

Sugar Grove-based Engineering Enterprises Inc. sent information about its toy drive for the Fox Valley United Way in response to the urgent need of struggling families who don’t have a means to provide gifts for their children.

In addition to the toy drive this year, EEI also adopted two families. Close to 100 toys were collected at their Sugar Grove office and delivered to the Fox Valley United Way office in Aurora on Dec. 7. Toy donations were used to alleviate pressure on families that would have had to choose between purchasing holiday gifts and necessary staples, such as food.

“EEI is pleased to support the Fox Valley United Way toy drive to benefit children whose families may have limited resources this season," Peter Wallers, president for EEI said in a news release. “We are constantly looking for ways to give back to the communities that we serve, and this is just another way of meeting one of our company goals.”

Movie time at Sugar Grove's library:

The Sugar Grove Public Library has planned free movies and popcorn from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4. The movies will be shown at 2 p.m. each day. Among the movies to be shown will be "Arthur Christmas" on Wednesday and "Pirates! Band of Misfits" on Thursday. Parents must stay with children younger than 7.

For information, visit

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

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