Visit Santa’s Workshop for Fill a Heart 4 Kids

I took a little field trip to Santa’s Workshop earlier this week and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

Annie McAveeney, founder of Fill a Heart 4 Kids, took over the vacant Sweet Pete’s space in Lake Forest’s Market Square at the beginning of December and transformed it into a magical workshop where visitors can come and make a stocking for the children her organization cares for. Fill a Heart 4 Kids gives Lake County’s homeless youth and foster children educational support, necessities, and positive experiences to help their hearts heal.

My niece Winifred Hartman busy making a stocking as Fill A Heart 4 Kids as founder Annie McAveeney oversees the process.

This Christmas, Annie’s goal is to make sure that every child in her program–there are more than 1,300 of them to date–receives a stocking filled with toiletries. Additionally, she’s hoping volunteers will choose to purchase additional items she has for sale from gift cards and candy to fleece sweatshirts and stuffed animals to round out the basic necessities the stocking provides.

To participate in this workshop is easy. You simply go online (click here) and register for an appointment to ensure that there are never too many people in the workshop at once. When it’s your time, your temperature is taken, Annie asks you to complete a few forms, and you decide on what you’ll contribute with your stocking from a menu of items. The minimum donation is just $15.

On the day I visited, I had my daughter and my three-year-old niece Winifred with me. Annie took us through the process and really focused on my niece, sweetly explaining to her who the stockings were for. She had Winifred make a card to go with her stocking because she told her how important it is for each one to feel as if it was made with love.

In addition to toiletries, Annie makes sure every stocking also has a sweet treat.

My niece was completely engaged, as were my daughter and me. The whole process only takes about 30 minutes. There are so few places to actually do any hands-on volunteering in this time of Covid, that I hope everyone has a chance to make a stocking before Annie has to close her workshop for Christmas. You can sign up here if you’d like to pay Santa’s Workshop a visit. And rest assured that Fill a Heart 4 Kids is following all protocols to keep volunteers safe while in the workshop. It’s spotless!

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 12 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Fill a Heart 4 Kids and its neighbors in Market Square are hosting a visit from Santa as they fill food boxes for the children. The event will be held outside and all are encouraged to come rain or shine.

Before Winifred left Santa’s Workshop, she mailed Santa a letter to let her know the good work she had done. Santa answers all the letters he receives from this workshop.

lululemon is also helping Fill a Heart 4 Kids with collection boxes and Christmas trees at Lake Bluff’s Forest Greens Juice Bar and Quest Performance Training, Lake Forest’s Wellness Solutions, and Libertyille’s Singalila Gallery.

Thanks, Annie, for reminding us what’s really important this Christmas! I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for you and your inspiring outreach.


My name is Ann Marie Scheidler and I'm thrilled you've decided to check out my blog. I'm a pearl-loving yogi with a thing for travel, a weakness for beautiful bags, and a passion for storytelling. In this space, I'll be sharing stories about my family, go-to recipes, my wellness journey, fashion and beauty favorites, and my love for Chicago’s North Shore. I find new inspiration wherever I go. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!


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