ST. CHARLES – As the parents of two small children, Minor and Jennifer Mobley know what it is like seeing a child's face light up after unwrapping a Christmas present.
The couple wants to create as many happy faces as possible this holiday season. For the fifth straight year, they are collecting Christmas presents for needy children in St. Charles Community Unit School District 303.
The effort started shortly after the couple opened Excel Automotive Repair in St. Charles in November 2014.
"When we first started the business, we wanted to find a way to help the community," Minor Mobley said.
Excel Automotive partners with D303 elementary school social workers, who collect wish lists directly from students in need. The wish lists are comprised of clothing and toy ideas. This year, the business is partnering with middle schools in the district as well.
After receiving the lists, the couple works to find sponsors to purchase these gifts. Last year, the couple was able to fulfill the wish lists of 197 students.
The effort – which is supported by other local businesses and families – helps more and more kids every year. The parents of the students don't know where the presents came from.
"It is for sure a city effort," Jennifer Mobley said. "We reach out for sponsors and the community's been great with wanting to take on these lists. It's been amazing."
The idea came about after talking to the social worker at their child's school, Wild Rose Elementary School.
"We had one child at Wild Rose at that time," Jennifer Mobley said. "We reached out to our school social worker and she said, yeah, there definitely is a need, so that's kind of how it all got started."
And it is not just toys on the students' wish lists.
"Many times these lists include such things as coats and socks and gloves and hats," she said. "I saw that somebody wanted a pillow for their bed. It's basic needs for some of these kids."
This year, the couple is looking to fulfill the wish lists of more than 400 students. Volunteers are needed to help wrap the gifts during the fourth annual Christmas wrapping party, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11 at its location at 1207 Foundry St., Suite A, St. Charles. Last year, about 300 people helped wrap presents.
The shifts are 45-minutes long. To sign up, go to Excel Automotive Repair's website at www.excelautostc.com and click on upcoming events.
Food sponsors are still needed for the wrapping party.
"We really need dessert sponsors," Jennifer Mobley said.
Volunteers are also needed to help put on the event and people can still sign up to sponsor a child. She likes seeing the community come together during the wrapping party.
"It's a wonderful family event," she said. "It's a feel good time, I think. Everybody is giving back. It's just awesome."
And the couple is just happy they can give back.
"We didn't have a whole lot growing up, so that now we are in a position to do so, we want to help out those less fortunate," she said.