Salvation Army

By Kathryn Menue


BELVIDERE – Friday, May 20 marked a special day for General Mills.

General Mills celebrated 150 years of business.

The morning of May 20 started the day’s celebration with a breakfast honoring area businesses for their support of General Mills-Belvidere.

“We have a lot to celebrate today,” Jean Loesch, plant manager of General Mills-Belvidere said. “We asked you to come today to recognize all that you do.”

The breakfast began at 8 a.m. at the Keen Age Center in Belvidere, which honored local partners who have shown their support for General Mills.

These organizations included: the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry, the Belvidere School District, the Boone County Council on Aging, the Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois, the Salvation Army, Ken Rock Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club, the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity, Angelic Organics Learning Center, the YWCA, Midway Village, United Way, Rockford Rescue Ministries, the YMCA, and the Belvidere I.O.U. Club.

General Mills also dedicated the breakfast to the history of their company, which began in 1866 as a “small flour company on the banks of the Mississippi River.”

Kent Wilson, General Mills government affairs manager, said that since 1866, General Mills has grown to establish “some of the world’s most recognized brands.”

General Mills has also teamed with other organizations to provide technological advancements like the first black box for airplanes and recreational advancements such as the Nerf football.

Most importantly, General Mills has established a company that encompasses a community-based atmosphere.

“Our company could not have survived 150 years without communities like this one,” Wilson said.

Since community is a vital part of how General Mills operates, the corporation decided to give back to their communities with donations to local organizations.

General Mills set aside $1.4 million to donate to organizations who give back to communities in areas where General Mills’ plants are located. The $1.4 million was split into 70, $20,000 donations.

One organization in Belvidere was the lucky recipient of one of those $20,000 checks.

At Friday’s breakfast, the Belvidere Salvation Army was surprised with the $20,000 check.

General Mills had a tough time deciding which organization deserved the donation. After Paula Oij nominated the Salvation Army, General Mills’ team discussed the nomination and decided the Salvation Army deserved the $20,000.

“The Belvidere plant is located in a small community and the Salvation Army is heavily used to provided food, shelter, and utilities for the less fortunate. [They] help underprivileged families in times of need,” Oij wrote. “Our local Salvation Army especially helps over the holidays making sure everyone has a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and gifts for children.”

Oij’s nomination really stood out among the rest, making the Salvation Army the $20,000 recipient.

“I’m in shock,” Lynn Beard, Salvation Army business administrator, said. “Our pantry is very low right now, extremely low.” Beard said the money will go toward stocking up on food for their pantry.

“There’s going to be a lot of happy people,” Beard said. “This will go a long way.”

Belvidere Salvation Army Lt. Martha Valladares was emotional as well when she said, “It was an answer to our prayers.”

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