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United Way surpasses 2013 goal

Agency thanks community at recognition luncheon

STERLING – "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

The hundreds of campaign volunteers who attended the United Way of Whiteside County recognition lunch Wednesday were left with that famous quote from Sir Winston Churchill. They also were left with the satisfaction of knowing that United Way had surpassed its 2013 fundraising target.

Pledges and donations came to $735,655, topping the county's goal of $730,000, United Way Executive Director Russ Siefken told the crowd at Bethel Reformed Church.

Whiteside United Way funds 33 programs in 19 partner agencies.

The torch will later be passed from 2013 campaign co-chairs Patrice Vary and Mary Ellen Wilkinson. Jeff Detra of Sauk Valley Bank is president of the United Way Board of Directors. The new target for 2014 will be set in June, Siefken said.

Several individual and group awards were presented during the luncheon.

Craig Bowen was named Volunteer of the Year, largely for his work with the chili cookoff.

"During the campaign, you could always find a smiling face in the work room of the United Way office, stuffing envelopes, stuffing penny bags, or going on presentations to all the schoolchildren, hosting popcorn parties," Vary said in her introduction speech.

Pastor Rich Fassig and congregation members from Rock Falls United Methodist Church received the President's Award. Church members packed items for the more than 4,300 bags that were handed out during the Back to School Supply Drive. But that was just the beginning of their contributions.

"In September, this same group decided to take a leap of faith to help out the community by making available to anyone with a Link card a personal care pantry, Bear Necessities," said Elizabeth Klahn, a member of the United Way Board of Directors.

About 100 people a month are now given a variety of personal items, including shampoo, toilet paper and soap, at the church's personal care pantry at 210 Fourth Ave. in Rock Falls. Monetary donations also are accepted. Items were collected for the pantry from those in attendance and given to the church.

Company of the Year Wahl Clipper pledged $75,000 in 2013, increasing its giving by 23 percent. The company matches the contributions by its employees.

The award for Best Campaign by a Partner Agency went to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois for several creative activities that put the fun in fundraising.

The Girl Scouts, winners of the Spirit Award, have a new service center on First Avenue in Rock Falls. Girls can get information about the organization and shop for scouting merchandise.

Siefken reported that the free 211 assistance phone line, in the past 3 months, has aided more than 300 county residents with emergency situations such as food, shelter and help with rent.

Wednesday's event opened with entertainment by the leads in the Sterling High School production of "Tarzan."

Partner agencies

The 19 partner agencies that benefit from the efforts of the United Way of Whiteside County:

• American Red Cross, Lincoln Land Branch

• Big Brothers Big Sisters

• Blackhawk Area Council Boy Scouts

• Catholic Charities of Sterling

• Community Partnerships

• Girl Scouts of Northwestern Illinois

• Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center

• Hospice of the Rock River Valley

• LIFE (Literacy is Fun for Everyone)

• Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

• Morrison Preschool

• Morrison Day Care

• Rock Falls Civic Fund

• Sterling-Rock Falls Child Care

• Sterling-Rock Falls Family YMCA

• Whiteside County Senior Center

• White Oaks Therapeutic Equestrian Center

• Woodlawn Arts Academy

• YWCA of the Sauk Valley

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