A holiday party designed to provide cheer to less-fortunate children from area shelters and parishes will also include, for the first time, children whose families were recently evicted from their homes – a program Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart introduced as part of a continuing effort to assist those struggling families in getting back on their feet.
More than 100 underprivileged children attended the event set for 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19 at Edelweiss Restaurant, 7650 West Irving Park Road, Norridge. Among those that attended are dozens of kids whose parents struggled to pay their rent or mortgage for varied reasons and ultimately were removed from their home by deputies.
Dart has instituted several reforms to the eviction process since taking office in 2006, including providing three notices to families before a foreclosure eviction is done, while also hiring a social worker to work closely with eviction crews and identify families or elderly residents who might be in need of specific types of assistance from social service agencies. Twice in the last two years, he identified problems with legal steps leading up to the eviction, which caused him to halt evictions until protections for families could be ensured.
Through contact with affected families, Dart has been able to provide many with links to assistance they otherwise wouldn’t have known about and his office has remained in contact with many of those recently evicted families. When Dart’s longtime friend, attorney Walter Kosch, discussed a holiday event he wanted to sponsor for needy children, Dart suggested also inviting those children who had been recently affected by an eviction.
Kosch partnered with Dart, as well as State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) and Cook County Commissioner Peter Silverstri (R-Elmwood Park) to sponsor the party which included gifts, food, a choir and magician, along with a visit from Santa Claus.