The Valenti family, made up of John, Danielle and their two children, Jax (17) and Gianna (14), have made their home at 6108 Washington St. Chicago Ridge a drop-off site for a Christmas Toy Drive through St. Vincent de Paul Chicago. (Supplied photos)

The Valenti family, made up of John, Danielle and their two children, Jax (17) and Gianna (14), have made their home at 6108 Washington St. Chicago Ridge a drop-off site for a Christmas Toy Drive through St. Vincent de Paul Chicago. (Supplied photos)

Chicago Ridge light show benefits toy drive

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The Valenti family, made up of John, Danielle and their two children, Jax (17) and Gianna (14), have made their home at 6108 Washington St. Chicago Ridge a drop-off site for a Christmas Toy Drive through St. Vincent de Paul Chicago.

By Kelly White

Both having been raised in Chicago Ridge, John and Danielle Valenti take pride in their home and community. Christmastime is the perfect time for them to showcase their elaborate light display right in the heart of Chicago Ridge.

But Christmas means so much more to the Valenti family.

Since 2021, The Valenti family, made up of John, Danielle and their two children, Jax (17) and Gianna (14), have made their home at 6108 Washington St. a drop-off site for a Christmas Toy Drive through St. Vincent de Paul Chicago.

reporter 12 19 CR light show3 2023“I bring the toys directly into St. Vincent’s and organize for delivery to children and my family has delivered to other the local organizations, as well, dressed as either Santa and his reindeer or elves,” Danielle Valenti said. “We love sharing Christmas magic.”

The inspiration for the Valenti Christmas Toy Drive came in 2021 when Danielle began working for St. Vincent de Paul Chicago and hosted its first-ever Scare, Care and Share Winter Coat Drive at Halloween.

“When I was heading up their thrift store toy drive and Christmas assistance program, I decided to talk to my husband about hosting a Christmas Toy Drive at our home,” Danielle said. “We figured since we already decorated and had hundreds of people visiting our home, why not? It’s not about making a donation, it’s about making a difference.”

This year marks the Valentis third year donating toys to St. Vincent de Paul’s Neighbor in Need Program and also to local charities.

In 2021, the family also participated in the Officer Steven Smith Toy Drive in Chicago Ridge. In 2022, they proudly delivered toys to the Advocate Children’s Hospital Wonderland Program.

“We will be bringing toys to Advocate Children’s Hospital again this year,” Danielle said.

The toys are delivered to St. Vincent’s and to Advocate Children’s Hospital around the 15th of December to be distributed by their own Santa around Christmas.

The inspiration for the family’s Christmas light display came right from their neighborhood.

“Actually, from our neighbor up the street on 109th and Lyman, the Kasper Family,” Valenti said. “We grew up enjoying the magic they shared.”

John and Danielle began their own decorating tradition in 2012 and their display has slowly grown with an item or two added each year.

“As our kids got older and expressed interest in certain aspects, we tried to bring them into our display,” Danielle said. “We’ve built the four houses in our display: the Nativity house, the gingerbread house, the animated dollhouse and the Frozen Castle. As my daughter showed an interest in drawing, she started drawing characters for our display.”

Currently, the Valenti home features the entire Frozen crew, the animated Grinch characters, as well as Iron Man and Black Panther.

“Our family works together to design, build, and paint each project,” Danielle said. “To be honest though, this is my husband’s passion. He is the one checking and fixing lights, rewiring displays, and tying on bows.”

John, who is also known as the area’s Clark Griswold, likes to start each Christmas season with the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and remains very proud of his annual display.

“What he enjoys the most about decorating is the joy it brings to people,” Danielle said. “Seeing kids running around in awe and people driving or walking through viewing the display.”

reporter 12 19 CR light show5 2023

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