Since 1967, Illinois VFW Posts of the 5thDistrict have provided Christmas Cheer to veterans at Downey Veterans Administration Hospital (Now James A Lovell Federal Healthcare Center) in North Chicago, Illinois. 2020 marks the 53rd consecutive year since 1967 that "Operation Christmas Cheer” has been an annual event.
Operation Christmas Cheer was precipitated due to the growing number of OCC” began when VFW and Auxiliary members from the 5th District took presents to Downey VA Hospital, (predecessor to Lovell FHCC) due to the increasing number of wounded veterans arriving from the rice paddies and jungles of Viet Nam.
The 53rdedition of Operation Christmas Cheer required many adaptions in order to bring it to fruition. Prior years, VFW and Auxiliary members as well as volunteers and the Waukegan High School Jr ROTC would arrive at McHenry VFW Post, and last year operations were moved to Lake Villa VFW Post 4308.
Friday in December of OCC commences on Friday morning assembling boxes, setting up tables to create the "production line”; Friday afternoon, a contingent meet at COSTCO and then Sam’s Club to secure the final items to be loaded into the gift packages Saturday morning. Friday afternoon, a group of volunteers’ shops for necessary items at local COSTCO, SAM’s Club, to add remaining items to gift list for hospitalized veterans at James A Lovell FHCC.