By Marianne Mueller

Every year at Christmastime 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. 17, special deliveries were made to various homes.

Numerous volunteers from the Rockton Lions and from the community came together at Apex General Contracting in South Beloit where food, toys and clothing were previously prepared for deliveries.

This year 96 families were served through these loving acts in Rockton, Roscoe, Shirland South Beloit and Harrison. Around 200 children were brought love and smiles as they received this dose of Christmas cheer.

All names of families who could use a lift during the season are referred through the schools, and are referred by local school districts.

Items that are received are based off of a list provided by the parents. “Every year we provide enough food to last a family at least a month or more,” Garlow said.

A good portion of the money that was raised comes from the annual Wimpy’s Fund auction, which was held online the past two years and from various partnerships. After a hiatus of the live auction due to Covid-19 it was reintroduced at the 2022 Rockton Christmas Walk. This is one of the resources that helps to provide gifts, food and more.

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. Extra donations come in from churches, Rockton and Roscoe schools; some also adopt a family.

“This year several organizations held toy drives and donated those toys to help with Wimpy’s Fund, Silent auction,” Co-Chair, Terrie Garlow said.

Financial donations are received at First National Macktown Bank.

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 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.

Vaughn passed away in 1997 and his friend Jack Stewart decided to carry on his legacy. Other Lions Club members have teamed up to assure smiles and a brighter season comes to these families through the years.

Five core volunteers put the auction together. They gather donations and organize both the silent and live auction event. Many other Lion’s members lend a hand by donating or helping during the auction.

Terrie Garlow and Carol Wright share duties as Co-chairs of the online auction. Connie Kieffer oversaw the live auction. Tami Verstraete served as the delivery chair.

Auction items that made the best value included brewery cards, wine tasting events, coffee baskets, consignment items, fire truck rides and jewelry.

Many hours go into preparing for the auction. Volunteers work for at least a month; with a weekly meeting to plan the next steps, and making phone calls to organize and gather donated items.

To get ready for delivery day volunteers spend many hours organizing items to be given to fill each list.

“Volunteers for the delivery day are too many to count; this is a huge group of Lions members, people in the community, businesses, school districts and local churches,”  Garlow said.

Every year the Rockton Lions Club hosts Breakfast with Santa at the Rockton Christmas Walk. Funds from the breakfast also go toward Wimpy’s Fund. Rockton Lion Jeff Schreck served as the chair of the breakfast.

Future Wimpy’s Fund hopes are to assure teenagers have a Merry Christmas by giving gift cards through a drive or in other ways to fill a teenagers wish list. “Every year we struggle with filling this part of Wimpy’s. There is so much support given to the little kids but other children also need to have that support,” Garlow said.

The generosity that has been shown through support of this mission has enabled the Rockton Lions Club to have extra donated gifts, assuring that each child has enough.

In the year 2022 Rockton Lions and the overall community brought Christmas cheer to area families through Wimpy’s Fund!

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