Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts in Lake, McHenry, portions of Kane and Cook counties that make up the Fifth District VFW posts and auxiliaries secured monetary donations, as well as product donations, for the annual Operation Christmas Cheer.

Items collected included personal care items, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, disposable razors, socks, various snack items, game books, games, playing cards, paperback books, microwave food items, Afghans, throw blankets, powdered drink mix, instant soup mixes, batteries and flashlights.

Christmas packages were packed on a Saturday afternoon to hand out to male and female service members at Downey VA Hospital the following Sunday afternoon by VFW and Auxiliary, as well as Waukegan Jr. ROTC.

The planning for Operation Christmas Cheer starts March 1 each year with letters going out to major contributors, such as: W.W. Grainger, Team Home Depot, American Dental Association, Johnny D Tees, Consolidated Community School District 26, “Happy Hookers,” as well as VFW Posts throughout the VFW Illinois Fifth District.

December 2020 marked the 53rd consecutive year VFW Posts in Northern Illinois that make up the Fifth District have provided Christmas gifts to hospitalized service members and veterans at James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center in North Chicago.

In June 2020, VFW members were faced with potential cancellation due to COVID-19 restrictions set in place by the Veterans Affairs.

OCC Chairman Kevin Cournoyer and VFW Fifth District leadership were determined that Operation Christmas Cheer would continue and a modified plan was presented to the VA, which realized a modified version utilizing social distancing and sanitation procedures would be a better option then canceling.

Kenny List, entertainment director at Lovell, and his staff were appreciative of the efforts by the VFW to continue this program.

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Cournoyer and volunteers delivered 200 packages to the James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center, 45 to Edward Hines VA Hospital, and 16 to Thrive of Lake County (formerly Winchester House).

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