Helping others one of joys of holiday season

Jaclyn McNamara rose to the ranks of president of the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club quickly. She said that's partially due to her inability to say no, but mostly because of her commitment to the good that's accomplished by the organization's 271 members.

McNamara was new to the community when she joined the 73-year-old organization in 2017. She said she joined as a way to meet her neighbors and stayed to make a difference in the lives of neighbors in need.

"You don't think the need is in your backyard," said McNamara, who said she was surprised to learn of the community's food pantry and the demand for its services. Each holiday season, the HJWC partners with the HCS Family Services pantry to provide holiday gifts for families and individuals throughout the community. Known as Gift of the Season, the program is expected to provide gifts for 317 people this year, McNamara said.

"It's anywhere from an 80-year-old grandpa to a 3-year-old little girl," she said of those who will receive gifts through the program and the 152 members who adopted individuals or families this year.

By adopting someone on the HCS Family Services list, a participant agrees to provide items on that person's wish list. The items might be for the person to keep or to use as gifts for their loved ones.

Members of the HJWC Outreach Committee gather on Dec. 10 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hinsdale to organize and distribute donations. Members are on hand to wrap gifts in paper to reflect whatever holiday the recipients are observing or recipients can choose to take paper home to wrap gifts themselves.

Club members donate the wrapping supplies, while Hinsdale merchants pitch in to provide other necessary items. Fuller's donates bags to help transport gifts and members of the Hinsdale Central Hockey Club will help carry gifts to peoples' cars.

McNamara said recipients' wish lists often include necessities such as cleaning supplies and gift cards for food and other household items, pointing once again to the need in the community.

"It's really eye opening," she said.

Club participation in Gift of the Season is greater than ever, McNamara said. This year, in addition to hundreds of HCS Family Services patrons, members of HJWC will provide gift cards for 40 foster children through a partnership with Lutheran Child and Family

Services of Illinois.

"This is our largest year yet," McNamara said.

While Gift of the Season is a big undertaking for HJWC, it's one of many projects taken on by the club each year. On Dec. 11, HJWC will once again host the 5K Jingle Dash. The run will fund a scholarship program to help philanthropic high school students attend college.

The second annual Jingle Dash steps off from Robbins Park at 8 a.m. After the run, participants will enjoy snacks and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Jingle Dash is organized by the club's Education Committee. More information about Jingle Dash and HJWC is available at

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean