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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2003

First Family turns on holiday lights
Governor announces keep our Kids Warm and Safe Campaign

Performers help usher in 14th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, his wife Patti and daughter Annie today turned on the holiday season by illuminating more than 20,000 miniature bulbs on a 25-feet holiday tree in the lobby of the James R. Thompson Center. During the 14th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Governor also invited residents to share the holiday spirit by contributing to a new effort to provide car seats and winter clothing accessories to needy families.
 
“Today, we’re kicking off a holiday campaign called Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe that focuses on making child safety seats available to families who can’t afford them and mittens, gloves, hats and scarves to kids who need them. Your donation means more to us and to the families you’re helping than you’ll probably ever know.”
 
The public may contribute to the effort until Jan. 2 by sending a check or money order to: Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Health Promotion, 535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761, Attention:  Fiscal Operations. The check or money order should be made out to the Illinois Department of Public Health with a notation that the donation is for the Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign.
 
Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe will give 1,000 child safety seats to persons who receive TANF, KidCare and Food Stamps and deliver new and laundered pre-owned children’s mittens, gloves, hats and winter scarves to homeless shelters around the state.
 
The public may drop off items for donation at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago; the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol in Springfield and local Illinois Department of Human Service (DHS) offices throughout the state, including its main offices at 401 S. Clinton in Chicago. Americorps volunteers will work with DHS to sort and distribute the clothing. 
 
For more information, people can call 866-476-1428 or visit the state’s Web site at www.illinois.gov.
 
As part of the holiday tree lighting, entertainment was provided by the DePaul Trumpet Ensemble, El Hogar Del Nino Ballet Folkroico, Curie Metropolitan High School for the Performing Arts Choir, McNulty Irish Dancers and Trinity United Church of Christ Sanctuary Choir.
 
Holiday decorations include a Festival of Trees decorated by eight organizations showcasing their native traditions and cultural heritage.  The organizations represented are the DANK German American National Congress, the Ghana National Council, the Irish American Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, the Korean American Senior Citizens Council, the Italian American Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, the Mirta Ramirez Computer Science Charter School, the Polish American Association, and the Serbian Orthodox Church Community.


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