Photo of a family posing by a Christmas tree at United for the Holiday


As Christmas music played and families mingled, Dayari Landa sifted through a table filled with children’s books, searching for the perfect read. The 9-year-old girl passed over Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein offerings and, with a look of delight, picked up two coding books for girls.

“This is great! I just joined Girls Who Can Code this year,” she said excitedly, before turning to the toy table, where she found a science kit to place under her Christmas tree.

An annual holiday resource fair, United for the Holidays provides 100 families, like Dayari’s, from one of United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Networks with winter gear, holiday gifts, health and household resources, and more. This year’s event, held on Wednesday night, benefited families in Evanston.

“You have a bunch of kids who are excited to be here. As a parent, it’s so cool to get to see kids find their toys, mittens, and hats — all the things we sometimes take for granted, but brighten a kid’s life,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago.

“It’s important for United Way to be doing this work because it allows the community to see us as a partner and to help these families have a better holiday and a little brightness in what could be a difficult time,” he added.