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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Two local men are making the holidays a little easier for some low-income families in the Metro East.

John Ciszczon of New Douglas and Rick Stamer of Edwardsville have reserved the Wildey Theater on December 7 and areinviting families from Edwardsville and Collinsville Head Start programs to watch a free screening of "Polar Express."

Families enrolled in the program live below the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four and do not have money to go to the movies.

Ciszczon and Stamer also mailed letters to businesses and other organizations asking them to donate $100 so they can by $100 gift cards to grocery stores so these families can also enjoy a holiday meal.

"When you look at the situation of who qualifies for Head Start, this means something," said Stamer. "This way they get money for food, and can budget for Christmas gifts."

"There are a lot of kids who don't see a tree full of presents surrounded by family at Christmas," said Ciszczon. "We are the ones that are blessed. They are good people, some just aren't fortunate enough to have good jobs."

Ciszczon delicers mail to the Edwardsville Head Start Center and is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers. For the last six years he has collected money from co-workers and families along his mail route to sponsor Head Start families during the holiday season.

When Ciszczon attended a Greater Madison County Federation of Laborers meeting earlier this year, he approached Stamer, an executive board member, and told him about his involvement in Head Start.

Stamer told him that together they could do even better than the $700 Ciszczon had raised on his own.

"It's easy to ask for money. It's the guys who write the checks who need to be thanked," said Stamer.

If you would like to make a donation, it can be mailed to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services at 550 Landmarks Blvd., P.O. Box 250, Alton, Ill. 62002. Checks should be made payable to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services and include "Holiday for Head Start" in the memo line.

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