Donate a toy, get a gift card: Geneva business owner supports Toys for Tots, local restaurants
As a member of the Fox Valley Corvette Club, Bill White has taken part in the club's past efforts with the Moose Lodge to energize the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program at this time of year.
With COVID-19 making large gathering places a little trickier for toy drop-off locations, White agreed to set one up at his business, State Street Collision auto repair shop, 802 E. State St. in Geneva.
Because White has worked in that building since 1979, and bought the business from Bob Black in 2012, he's gotten to know a lot of customers and business owners in the Geneva area.
And a lot of those people own and operate restaurants locally. As such, White has combined the toy drop-off program with an effort to help restaurants struggling so badly during COVID-19.
He's offering a $20 restaurant gift card to those who drop off an unwrapped, new toy at State Street Collision through Monday, Dec. 7. The drop-off location is not taking stuffed animals.
"My thought was that we were afforded the same payroll protection as the places that were forced to close," White said of the pandemic recovery efforts. "In April and May we might as well have been (closed), but we are OK."
White says he eats out often, so he understands the struggles unfolding for those business owners, their employees and customers. He bought more than 50 of the $20 gift cards and, as of earlier this week, he had between 30 and 40 left. He intends to buy more if the new toys keep coming in.
"I just thought it would get more toys and help way more people this way," White said. "I'm encouraged so far."
Those needing more information can contact the shop at (630) 232-0636.
Considering how many holiday events will be canceled or changed, it is encouraging to see the local toy drives continuing. And, as White envisions, anything that can help the local restaurants hold out hope until this pandemic is out of our lives is an important and meaningful gesture.
It didn't take long for readers to respond to the mystery about who owns the property along Route 47 in Sugar Grove in which a sign that states "Horse Not Dead" stands prominently in a field to let passersby know that if they see a horse lying down, it is just resting.
The Brummel family owns the farm property, just south of Jericho Road. Rick Brummel and his wife Pat live there now. Some had thought that maybe Jane (Brummel) Alabastro, owner of the Calamity Jane's Bar & Restaurant at the corner of Jericho and Route 47 in Sugar Grove, put the sign up.
She lived at that farm property for eight years before moving to Plano, but she confirmed the story about the sign going up because people would see a horse lying down in the field and felt maybe it had died.
"People don't know that is how horses rest," Alabastro said. "One person even got the police to come out and look into it."
When questions about the sleepy horses continued, the family decided to put up a sign -- part out of humor, part of being tired with people asking.
"I still get asked about that sign by people in the restaurant all of the time," said Alabastro, who also confirmed the sign has been up for two years.
As a side note, one reader said he and his wife eat at Calamity Jane's often and said the food, especially breakfast, is fantastic.
Hopefully, the restaurant can keep plugging away as we try to get on the other side of this pandemic and Jane can someday put up a "Restaurant Not Dead" sign as well.
Pastors and COVID:
Based on the sheer number of people that priests interact with at weekend services, hospitals and funeral homes, it is not surprising to hear when they have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Such was the case a couple of months ago with Holy Cross pastors Father James Parker and Father Romeo Pavin. When they were recovering from the virus, the Batavia church and school had to close for a period of time.
Most recently, St. Peter pastor Father John Bakkelund in Geneva informed parishioners he had tested positive, had mild symptoms and would be in quarantine for a couple of weeks.
Not going to weekend services at our church has been one of the stranger "new normal" things we'd had to get used to.
Like everyone else, we are hoping our church leaders can avoid the virus and recover quickly if they do. Mostly, we look forward to someday getting back to seeing our friends and neighbors at weekly services.
Leading the way:
Lazarus House in St. Charles has certainly played a big role in the lives of many people over the past few decades since it became a vital shelter for those in transition between homes and jobs or those who had neither.
None of it could occur without the strong leadership of Darlene Marcusson, Liz Eakins and, most recently, Leanne Deister-Goodwin as the executive directors.
Now, a new set of leaders is in place with Julie Purcell as executive director and development director and Wendy Gruber as associate director and director of guest and staff development. Others are Dawn McQuillan, homeless prevention services manager; Amy Dimicell, operations manager; and Sandy Falk, finance and administrative director.
As if there aren't enough challenges for the staff and Lazarus House residents, even in good times, we can't imagine the energy level and passion it is taking now to continue to serve those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
It's a signal that Lazarus House always needs community support, so it's helpful that we all be aware of what its needs are during the holiday season and year-round.
From politics to autos:
We finally got rid of the political ads on TV after Election Day, but it seems we have to continue the "dumb" moving forward.
Now we're back to commercials in which the young, well-to-do husband surprises his wife with a Christmas present that just happens to be a new car for each of them. Yeah, right.
First, the ad starts with the wife surprising her husband with some small gift, made to look at least somewhat meaningless. And, of course, the husband has come up with a much grander idea of new cars. Dumber, yes, but grander is open to debate.
She picks the car he initially felt was going to be his, and he just goes along with it. Ah, yes, the stereotypical stunt that is supposed to tug at our holiday heartstrings.
It gets the same reaction from me as political ads. Please make them stop.