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United Way of Lee County surpasses goal, announces new programs

March 22, 2019 GMT

DIXON – The United Way of Lee County surpassed its annual campaign goal by more than $20,000 and created two new community programs.

The organization set a goal of $415,000 for its 2018 community campaign and announced raising $436,698 Thursday during a celebration luncheon and awards ceremony at the Dixon Elks Lodge.

United Way will be replacing its Serving Up Summer free lunch program with Summer Eats, where those 18 and younger can pick up a free sack lunch, no questions asked.

Last year, Serving Up Summer gave out 482 meals, down from 696 in its first year.

The program was paid for through a federal reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the city qualified for because more than 50 percent of district students fell under the low-income category.


Executive Director Keri Olson said the grant funds also came with strict guidelines, such as requiring the students to sit and eat together, so they decided to retool the program and mirror it after the United Way of Whiteside County’s longstanding Let’s Feed Our Children program.

It will take place from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from June 10 to Aug. 16 at seven locations: Dixon High School, Reagan Middle School, Washington and Jefferson elementary schools, and Open Sesame in Dixon as well as the Winifred Knox Memorial Library in Franklin Grove and the Mills and Petrie Memorial Library in Ashton.

The program will have a broader reach in the area, but they will need to pay for it with donations and find 15 volunteers to help out, Olson said. Lunches will be assembled at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

United Way will hold a peanut butter and jelly drive on Mother’s Day, and also is launching the Tim Broos Yes You Can aluminum can recycling program. Broos, who served 10 years on the United Way board, is an avid recycler.

Recycling totes will be placed at events such as the Petunia Festival and Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Business After Hours events.

Awards presented Thursday were to Mike Smith for Live United Board Member, Kristina McWethy for Rookie of the Year, the Lee County Council on Aging for Live United Partner Agency, Hannah Gonzalez and the Borg Warner team for Division Goal Buster, Dianne Frye and the Dixon Public Schools team for Campaign Innovator of the Year, and Carolina Vitale for Campaign Volunteer of the Year.

Campaign co-chairwomen Deb Trancoso and Kayla Halfacre were recognized for their hard work and volunteerism, and employee excellence awards were presented to Wipfli, Sterling Federal Bank and Borg Warner.