McHENRY – A McHenry teenager’s nonprofit is again organizing a free Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas fundraiser ahead of the holidays.
Caden Ringer, 13, started Home Run Helpers last year after he learned a classmate didn’t have enough money to participate in a school field trip. The Parkland School student paid his friend’s way and then launched his own nonprofit to collect Christmas presents – and the mission has since grown.
“As different needs come up, he does whatever it takes in order to help,” said his mother, Christy Kreush. “Last year, we relied heavily on gift donations. We take it as it comes.”
Home Run Helpers collects presents for children ages 12 to 14, an age group overlooked by Toys for Tots. Last year, Ringer spent at least three weeks wrapping 500 presents for the 90 kids the toys would go to. This year, he aims to help at least 110, Kreush said.
The McHenry City Council recently honored Ringer for his work, and Mayor Wayne Jett donated $500 toward the organization. Home Run Helpers will host two events over the next two months.
The first event is a Thanksgiving dinner for the community held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Depot Restaurant, 8612 U.S. Highway 12, Richmond. The group also is organizing a spaghetti dinner with Santa to fundraise for presents. The dinner is planned for 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at Smith’s Central Garage, 3315 Pearl St., McHenry.
“I am incredibly proud,” Kreush said. “He gets a lot of attention for this, but we want him to remain humble and keep that spirit in him.”
Ringer plays baseball with the McHenry Cobras and is a seventh-grade student at Parkland School. People at both places have helped Home Run Helpers. He said that someone he looks up to is Chicago Cubs player Anthony Rizzo.
Ringer said that he was grateful for his teachers, friends and family who have helped and encourage the project.
“It feels amazing to see people happy and know they won’t have an empty Christmas,” he said. “I have always wanted to keep it growing but wasn’t sure it would.”