Help Local Children Have a Better Christmas with our 16th Annual Associated Physicians Group Secret Santa Program- November 6th through December 15th, 2017
Our 2017 Secret Santa Program is underway! Started fifteen years ago, the program has helped more than 2,000 struggling families provide Christmas gifts and food for their children.
According to Jay Taddei, Associated Physicians Group C.O.O., the idea for the Secret Santa Program was conceived after staff members at the APG office in O’Fallon, Illinois overheard a mother and her young son talking about the boy’s Christmas list.
“It was a Saturday morning a couple of weeks before Christmas, says Taddei. “One of our staff members approached me about a sad situation that was unfolding in our physical therapy area.” When Taddei went out to see what she was concerned about, he saw a five year old boy happily describing everything he wanted from Santa. “The excitement in his voice was exactly what one would expect from any five year old; but his mother’s face reflected a different story.”
“All of our hearts sank as the mom tried to quietly explain to her son that Santa was so busy—he couldn’t possibly make it to every child’s house. You could have heard a pin drop as she told him that she didn’t think Santa would make it to their house that year either.”
According to Taddei, the boy’s response to his mother will be forever etched in the minds of everyone who witnessed the conversation. “He looked right at his mom and said I know Santa is always busy, but he loves me and would never forget me.”
“It was heart wrenching,” says Taddei. “We pulled the mother aside and spoke to her about the situation. She had just come through a horrible stretch of bad luck that put her in dire financial straits. She was about to sell her car and cease her physical therapy treatment just to keep a roof over their heads.”
Moved by the plight of this mother and her young son, the staff quickly sprung into action. Employees pitched in and raised more than $300 to buy presents and food. Associated Physicians Group Corporate pitched in to help the mother keep her car and worked with her so she could continue her treatments.
“When she came in for her next appointment, I met with her privately. I will never forget the look on her face when she realized what we had done between the presents and the check to help with overall finances! It was the most rewarding moment of my professional career.”
Fourteen years later, the need for the Secret Santa program has never been greater. “We believe no child should ever wake up on Christmas morning without food or presents,” says Taddei. “We don’t want any local family to go without a proper Christmas dinner and a few presents for their children to open.”
While the majority of the funding comes directly from Associated Physicians Group, the program has also received help from a wide variety of people and community organizations.
“Many of our patients purchase items from the children’s wish lists,” says Taddei. “APG matches all cash donations dollar for dollar. The O’Fallon Township High School Interact Club has sponsored dozens of children and also delivers presents. Other generous supporters include members of BNI Belleville, the Swansea Rotary Club, Culver’s Restaurant in O’Fallon, IL., Jeff Wade, Mary Ellen Gatewood, and the O’Fallon Noon Rotary Club.
According to Taddei, there are three ways to help support Associated Physicians Group Secret Santa Program.
- Donate $20 to the Program and receive a consultation, two X-rays (if needed), and one free physical therapy appointment at any of Associated Physicians Groups 5 LOCATIONS, 916 Talon Drive, O’Fallon, IL 62269 (618-628-8211), 12 Wolf Creek Center, Swansea, IL 618-239-9910), 4414 West Center Drive, Alton, IL ((618) 509-4866), 1181 S. State Rt 157, Edwardsville, IL 62025 (618-288-4100) and 1000 Eleven South, Columbia, IL 62236 (618-663-3323)
- Stop by one of APG’s locations to sign up to purchase an item or items from a child’s wish list.
- Stop by Culvers on Rt. 50 in O’Fallon Illinois for Secret Santa night on Tuesday November 21st- 5pm-8pm. Dine in or take out and be sure to mention you are there for APG’s Secret Santa Program! Culvers will generously donate 15% of all proceeds directly to the Secret Santa Fund. (For a map, click here.)
The Secret Santa program runs November 6th through December 15th. For additional information, please contact Jay Taddei at (618) 567-7103.