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Touched by An Angel: Save Energy & Save a Kid, Too

Bill Steinhauser's annual Toys for Tots drive and semi-annual push for the CHARGE Foundation have come to be recognized as two ways of doing business at his family's local hardware store.

Helping customers find ways to save on energy costs is a priority for Bill Steinhauser at this time of the year.

So is helping those in need.

Steinhauser, co-owner of Park ACE Hardware, 16725 Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park, collects toys as part of the Toys for Tots program.

“We’re just trying to help kids in need in the Southwest Chicago area, collecting toys—unopened, unwrapped toys,” he said. “Bring them here. We’ve got a drop-off box right in the front of the store. And help a kid out this Christmas.”

Toys will be picked up by Toys for Tots officials on Dec. 20 and distributed on time for the holidays.

And, a cause more dear to Steinhauser’s own heart is the CHARGE Foundation. The Steinhauser family takes in donations at Park ACE to help fight CHARGE Syndrome, which is a recognizable pattern of birth defects that occurs in about 1-in-10,000 births worldwide.

CHARGE is an acronym that identifies the different areas of defects:

C—Coloboma of the eye (cleft of the eye, similar to cleft pallet, but in the eye).
H—Heart defects.
A—Artesia of the choanae (nasal passages are blocked usually by bony or soft tissue).
R—Retardation of growth and/or development.
G—Genital and/or urinary defects.
E—Ear abnormalities and or deafness.

Steinhauser and his wife, Deanna, have a 4-year-old son, Dominic, who was born with CHARGE. He suffers from vision and hearing impairment and an inability to swallow. He communicates primarily through sign language, attends pre-school in Frankfort and recently learned to eat his first “solid” food—applesauce.

“He’s got hearing loss in both ears,” Steinhauser said. “He’s got Colombomas in both eyes. He actually eats through a G-tube. But there are a lot of kids in CHARGE who have a lot more severe problems than Dominic.

“So, every summer and every holiday season, we raise money—just donations at the register—for the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, trying to get the word out there and get it known and ultimately trying to find a cure.”

Steinhauser said Park ACE collected $1,200 for CHARGE from Thanksgiving to the end of the year in 2011. Already, he said the store has exceeded that total in 2012. He said donations totaled $2,000 on Dec. 7 and he expected that number to continue to soar, thanks to the kind-heartedness of his most loyal customers.

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