By Marianne Mueller

The Rockton Lions Club continues to carry on a long time tradition of giving through Wimpy’s Fund, making the Christmas season brighter for local families.

On Saturday, Dec. 18 special deliveries were made to various homes.  More than 100 volunteers from the Rockton Lions and the community came together at Apex General Contracting in South Beloit where food, toys and clothing were prepared for distribution.

Santa Claus was on hand to add an extra dose of fun and spirit to the day.

This year 96 families were served through these loving acts in Rockton, Roscoe, Shirland South Beloit and Harrison.

Money was raised from the annual Wimpy’s Fund auction, which was held online the past two years and from various partnerships.  Montgomery Financial generously works with the Rockton Lions on organizing the auction and making it happen. They provide a space to work out of and to stage the baskets.

Great support also comes from key educational supporters including Rockton Grade School, Whitman Post Elementary School, Stephen Mack Middle School, Hononegah Community High School, Ledgewood School, and Red Shed Preschool.

Students at SMMS, WPES, and RGS took part in a week long tribute to Wimpy. All participated in the “Wimpy’s Spirit of Giving Week” for Wimpy’s fund. A message of spreading kindness was the premise behind this action.

Every day different pieces were chosen to be worn. The first day featured wearing red, green and white, the next a turtleneck sweater, and the following days they donned scarves or other warm clothes.  Pajamas; something festive on their heads and wearing a favorite pair of holiday socks rounded out the weeklong themes that were set.

Students, Administration and staff also adopted a family or donated financially. At RGS a total of $1,211.60 was raised.

The HCHS Renaissance Club sold and delivered candy canes bringing in $200 to buy gifts for a family. Additionally, Club members assisted in wrapping and delivering presents.

Further support was given by business and churches.  Mary’s Market, Embellish, Rockton United Methodist Church, Roscoe United Methodist Church, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Stillman Valley Bank, All World Machinery Supply, Inc., Local Blessings, Kiss Glass, Sugar Britches, Pratt Industry, Rockford Pain Management; and a group of local dentists – Dr. Kim Tuneburg, Dr. Carlson, and Dr. Laco have joined in these good works. Erica’s Board Creations made boards to be gifted to each family.

Businesses display tags for community members to adopt a family; employees in those businesses lend a helping hand by adopting a family or through donations of gifts for families.

Financial donations were received at First National Macktown Bank.

All of names of those who could use an extra boost at Christmastime are referred by local schools.

Wimpy’s fund began in memory of former Rockton police chief, Everett Vaughn who served as Chief from 1977-1981. He was given the nickname Wimpy based on the cartoon character in a Popeye who walked the streets and carried a sandwich board.

As he was helping children cross the street he would notice that some of the children didn’t have gloves, hats or socks. He went one step further and took the Mothers of those families shopping to buy clothing, groceries and one gift for each child in need. His wife Betty provided Christmas dinner for the families; over time they added toys into the mix.

In 2021 the generosity that was shown enabled the Rockton Lions Club to have extra donated gifts to assure that each child has enough. “Normally we save any extras and store them, but this year the need was greater, and we decided to pay it forward by delivering to tornado victims down south,” Rockton Lions auction C0- organizer Terrie Garlow said.

Garlow and Carol Wright worked as co-chairs on the auction and were joined by a small group of volunteers.

“It was another great year,” Rockton Lions Wimpy’s Fund delivery organizer Tami Verstraete said.

Vaughn passed away in 1997 and his friend Jack Stewart decided to carry on his legacy. Other Lions Club members have teamed up over the years to make the Christmas season special by carrying on this long time tradition.

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