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Cantigny's Community Trees exhibit supports area nonprofits

WHEATON – Seven area nonprofits will receive some additional attention this holiday season through the Robert R. McCormick House at Cantigny Park's eighth annual Community Trees charitable exhibit.

From Nov. 17 through Dec. 30, the McCormick House will feature seven trees, each decorated by one of the participating nonprofits: 360 Youth Services of Naperville, Child’s Voice of Wood Dale, National Alliance on Mental Illness DuPage of Wheaton, Naperville Responds for Veterans, Wheaton League of Women Voters Education Fund, The Resiliency Institute of Naperville and World Relief DuPage/Aurora.

Interim museum Director Will Buhligsaid a committee of personnel from Cantigny and the downtown McCormick Foundation select seven charities consistent with various aspects of the foundation's mission to recognize each year.

"It's a way for these organizations to promote their causes, and we also advocate that these organizations use this as a way to promote themselves as a community member at Cantigny," Buhlig said. "We see this as helping each other out in the program."

Dan Jurjovec, president of Naperville Responds for Veterans, said it's a "great honor" for his organization to be included in the tree decorating.

The nonprofit assists with home repair projects for veterans in need. Jurjovec said those projects include assisting with structural and adaptability issues, sewage problems and foundation cracks and providing a safe environment for the veteran and the veteran's family.

He said doing this work is a "good way to give back to the people who ensure our freedoms every single day."

The organization decorated its tree in a patriotic way with red, white and blue decor and ornaments with different images of the events and projects in which the organization has been involved, Jurjovec said.

Another organization – the League of Women Voters of Wheaton – also will decorate its tree in a patriotic way, said Barb Laimins, a co-president of the league along with Mary Tworek-Tupper.

"We're thrilled to be participating. ... People have said it's almost like we're back in Girl Scouts," Tworek-Tupper said.

She said the organization will decorate the tree with pictures of suffragettes, league people from the 1950s and modern-day league participants.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of the McCormick House, see printed information about the organizations represented, vote at the end of the tour for their favorite tree and donate to the organizations, Buhlig said.

Each participating organization receives a $2,500 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, he said. The organization whose tree gets the most votes as of Dec. 30, receives an additional $2,500.

About 2,750 people come for the program each year, Buhlig said.

"We're excited about it," he said. "We've got a lot of great groups coming in. It should be great."

At the Celebrate the Season event Dec. 2, organizations will be present to address questions for visitors, who may tour the house independently at that event and at the grand opening of the event Nov. 17, Buhlig said.

"I don't think that people realize how many organizations are out there doing some great work in the community, in DuPage County," he said. "Even though seven is only a very small sample of what's out there, I think the diversity of the groups that we try to provide each year gives people a wide range of ideas of all the great things that are happening in their communities with a wide variety of issues."

McCormick House hours in November and December are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and will be closed Nov. 23 and 24 and Dec. 24 and 25.


If you go

WHAT: Community Trees

WHEN: Nov. 17 through Dec. 30

WHERE: Robert R. McCormick House at Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton

COST: $5 for parking


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