[Joseph Michael Essex and Nancy Denney Essex] Evan Wilder Samata had every advantage, including parents who loved him — parents who had jobs, a beautiful home and health insurance. After he died in a tragic accident, the only thing anyone could think of to do was keep his name alive and honor his memory by helping other children who didn’t have the things he had.
Within a few months, Evan’s Life Foundation was formed, and we held our first gift-wrapping party to collect gifts and toys for children at risk. From this first party, a 20-year tradition was born.
The invitation to this year’s holiday gift-wrapping party carries the names of many of the children who have received grants over the years.
This annual event has become our biggest fundraiser of the year. Throughout the evening, guests wrap the presents they bring and pile them high under the Christmas tree. Over the years, more than 20,000 gifts and toys have been distributed to at-risk children. The raffle and silent auction offer items as diverse as fire engine rides, wines, iPads and iPhones, sports tickets, weekend trips, vintage and collectible posters and prints, museum-quality art and photographs, and one-of-a-kind experiences. Similar to a silent auction, our raffle allows participants to buy chances on just the items they really want.
Even before the party, the holiday tables are already laden with gifts ready to be wrapped.
Here are a few ways to participate:
1) Send new, unwrapped toys to the gift wrapping party to arrive before Dec. 2, 2011.
2) Send items for the fundraising raffle and silent action to arrive before Nov. 18, 2011.
3) Make a direct contribution to the Evan’s Life Foundation online. As from the very beginning of the foundation, 100% of all donations will go directly to children at risk.
4) Come to the party! Bring your new, unwrapped toys and your family and friends. The party is a great way to rekindle your holiday spirit and contribute to those in need.
The 19th Annual Evan’s Life Foundation Gift Wrapping and Fundraiser will be held Dec. 2, 2011, at 7 p.m. at smbolic (formerly SamataMason); 101 S. First St.; Dundee, Ill.
The tables in the raffle rooms are ready. Each item is raffled separately, which makes ours a fun and meaningful event. A few of the items typically donated to raffle are sports tickets, electronic devices, gift certificates, wine, art, photographs and one-of-a-kind experiences.
The purpose of Evan’s Life Foundation’s is simple: to reach out to children at risk. Our grants cover educational assistance, medical treatment, therapy and counseling, abuse education, physical or mental disability assistance, homeless child services and emergency assistance. We specialize in the small and unusual requests that most other foundations can’t. We have purchased bunk beds so children don’t have to sleep on the floor; coats, hats, boots and mittens to keep children warm and protected; bus tokens so children can avoid walking dangerous streets; and summer camp experiences for inner city kids who’ve never spent time away from the city.
The warmth of the party turns acquaintances into friends and rekindles the holiday spirit.
Every hour of administrative time and every dollar of operating expense is donated by foundation volunteers and corporate sponsors, which ensures that your contributions make the maximum possible impact in the lives of children.
Newsletters feature stories of children whose lives have been changed, sometimes by even the smallest of donations.
More than 1000 gifts are wrapped and distributed to at-risk children in the Chicago area.
Information on Evan’s Life Foundation/Gift Wrapping Party can be found here. Photos from last year’s party can be seen here. Please send toys to be wrapped and items to be raffled to: Pat Samata, smbolic, 101 South First St., West Dundee, Ill. 60118; phone 847.428.8600.
Joseph Michael Essex and Nancy Denney Essex, Essex Two, are designers and visual communication strategists.
Opening photo of Evan Wilder Samata by Marc Norberg