Volunteerism Spotlight

Department of Children and Family Services

Christmas came a little early for children under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. On December 14, 2013, hundreds of them were treated to a holiday-extravaganza, courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). More than 40 BCBSIL employees volunteered at the celebration, which featured food, fun, Blue Bear℠, Santa and presents!

Since mid-November, BCBSIL employees collected gifts for 600 children, who otherwise might not get anything special this holiday season. Bikes, toys and clothes were popular requests from the children. Some kids and teens had special requests that special employees went out of their way to make happen.

For the last 3 years, Nicole Mosta, a Lead Tech Data Center Specialist in Waukegan, has asked a handful of coworkers to donate to a gift fund. She collects the money and uses it to buy presents for the children no one else had picked to buy for, including a 15-year-old named Nicholas. His “if dreams come true” wish was for tickets to a Chicago Bulls basketball game. Nicole was able to secure the donation of four tickets and a parking pass for a January game, as well as some Bulls caps.

“What I like to do is take the list and read each one and think about what each kid would like for the holiday. It depends on who fills out the lists, but I really appreciate those that write more information about the child, their likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams,” says Nicole. “It always helps choosing a gift.”

That was the case with 9-year-old Sebastian. He is interested in becoming a policeman. Nicole reached out to his local police department and the Chief agreed to give Sebastian a tour of the department and command center and have a meet and greet with other officers.

In the case of Nicholas and Sebastian, sometimes the best presents don’t come wrapped in a box and they benefit the giver as well as the receiver.

Nicole says, “I get the feeling most of us get when we help someone else… it makes me feel good inside to know that I’ve made a difference.”