Chicago-area time capsule allows kids to share pandemic experiences

Chicago-area time capsule allows kids to share pandemic experiences


This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

The contents of a single cylindrical canister offer a glimpse into the world of 8-year-old Ellie Landa and her younger sister, Calista, as they navigated the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A black face mask. A plush toy that made them smile. A sachet of the zinnias and lavender they started growing at their Glen Ellyn home. A handwritten reflection describing how they spent their free time and connected virtually with loved ones.

“If you go (through) a time like this,” Ellie wrote at the conclusion of her note, “you can get (through) it.”

Her message is intended for the next generation of elementary-age children who, in five years, will unseal the Landa sisters’ container and thousands of others submitted to the Once Upon Our Time Capsule project.

The concept was launched this year by working moms Stacey Gillett and Stephanie Hodges, who wanted to provide Chicago-area kids, primarily ages 5 to 12, with an opportunity to work through the challenges they’ve encountered since spring 2020.

It has since evolved into an expansive passion project, Gillett said, connecting kids from various demographics, geographies and walks of life through a “collective time capsule that tells the experience of Chicago’s children through this really incredible time we’re living through.”



Despite the complexities of the pandemic, being involved with Girl Scouts has provided a level of comfort to Ellie and 5-year-old Calista, who participated in Zoom meetings, discovered new hobbies and learned valuable lessons about resilience, mom and troop leader Monica Lagunas said.

And by sharing their newfound wisdom through the time capsule, the girls believe they could help other kids facing their own difficulties in the future.

For the full story, click here.

Willow Creek’s Care Center garden grows food for families in need

Volunteer Nanette Sykes of Schaumburg plants green pepper plants with 4-year old Everly Steyn at the Willow Creek Care Center Garden in South Barrington.
– Courtesy of Willow Creek



It’s not exactly a secret garden, but tucked away in the southwest corner of the Willow Creek Community Church campus in South Barrington is its Care Center Garden.

Last year, its volunteer gardeners harvested 6,500 pounds of vegetables, and this year they are hoping for 8,000 pounds. Its crops include: leafy greens, beans, carrots, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, radishes, squash and zucchini, tomatoes and five different varieties of peppers — grown from its 1,700 pepper plants.

New this year are peaches and apples, grown from trees donated by the Bianchini family, owners of Royal Oak Farm in Harvard.

All of these nutritious fruits and vegetables go straight to Willow Creek’s Care Center and into the produce section of its food pantry, or food store as they call it, where guests can pick out what they want and take it home.

During a typical week, its food store draws between 1,000 and 1,500 families, says Marthinus Steyn, who manages the food and clothing stores inside the Care Center.

“Our mission is simple,” Steyn says. “We’re trying to grow something fresh and get it into the hands of families who can put it on their table that night.”

For the full story, click here.

After a year’s delay, Grayslake celebrates its 125th birthday

Parents Nate and Kim Cummins pose for a selfie with their children Desiree, left, and Trystan outside the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum. The Cummins family is one of many vying to take a selfie at each of the stops along the Grayslake History Trail for a shot to win $100.

Parents Nate and Kim Cummins pose for a selfie with their children Desiree, left, and Trystan outside the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum. The Cummins family is one of many vying to take a selfie at each of the stops along the Grayslake History Trail for a shot to win $100.
– Courtesy of Michelle Poe, Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum

The celebration of Grayslake’s 125th birthday had to be put off last year because of the pandemic, but the belated party is now underway via a series of village events.

On Thursday evening, the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum hosted an evening of history, including a special presentation by historic re-enactors, the unveiling of the village’s new flag design and the opening of a trunk locked by residents in 1995 as a time capsule.

“The time capsule is in front of me here. It’s a little dusty,” Michelle Poe, executive director of the heritage center and museum, said over the phone from her office Monday. “It’s been hidden in the village hall.”

Poe said that in addition to seeing what the residents of the past stored in the trunk, several community groups have come together to donate items from 2021 to be opened 25 years from now. Among the objects Poe said are likely to be included are a photo of Center Street and a cellphone, so hopefully those in the future can marvel at how far they’ve come, she said.

Another way Grayslake residents are being encouraged to engage with the village’s history is by visiting all 25 stops on the new Grayslake History Trail. As an incentive, five lucky people will receive $100 in the form of Chamber Bucks, which can be used at any village business in the Chamber of Commerce.

For the full story, click here.

Bartlett centenarian makes artistic debut in solo exhibit

If you think you’re too old to try something new, then you’ll think again when you meet Victory Centre of Bartlett resident Helen Frank.

At age 96, Frank began creating fine art for the very first time in her life, and now, at 100 years old, she is hosting her first solo art exhibit at Arts in Bartlett.

The exhibit, aptly named “Hundred Year Blossoms,” is on display and open to the public through Oct. 27 at Arts in Bartlett, 215 S. Main St., Bartlett. Fifty-seven pieces of Frank’s abstract collages are showcased and available for purchase.

“She is a genius with colors,” says Sigrid Wonsil, the volunteer art instructor who discovered and helped hone Frank’s talent and is now a close friend.

Under Wonsil’s guidance, Frank, who had no prior formal art instruction, learned color theory, mixing primary, secondary, and complementary colors.

“Creating makes me feel great!” said Frank, who despite her arthritis, opens her own jars and tubes of paint to keep creating.

For the full story, click here.

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