By Bob Balgemann


There were lots of hurts in the village during 2020, a mostly hard to believe year that came to a close today. But through it all the spirit of giving that has been in evidence around here for a very long time was still alive, helping so many who were, and still are, in need.

Getting through Christmas was difficult for some families in a number of ways, particularly those with young children, who wouldn’t have understood why Santa Claus didn’t drop off at least one gift at their house. That didn’t happen for many kids thanks to the generosity of the community funneled through village hall, Harlem Township, North Park Church of Christ and Helping Hands Food Pantry.

More than 200 youngsters received gifts through yet the 11th annual village toy drive, in partnership with the church and food pantry at 7620 Elm Ave. for 10 of those years. That distribution this year started Dec. 12, continuing on Dec. 19 and wrapping up Dec. 23. Participants were scheduled every 30 minutes to visit the church center, one at a time, and pick out toys for their children, ages birth through high school.

At Harlem Township, 36 youngsters received toys with 19 family shoppers dropping by the township office at 819 Melbourne Ave. to personally pick out gifts. Leftover toys were given to the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department for its toy drive.

In addition, the township helping hand for the first time this year was extended to the Walter Lawson Children’s Home off Alpine Road, just north of Harlem Road, in Loves Park. Township Supervisor Terri Knight said $500 was contributed to officials at the home, to do with as they saw fit. 

At village hall, during village board meetings, there also was evidence of the holiday season.

On Dec. 7, Mayor Steve Johnson made a donation to the Helping Hands Food Pantry, represented by Ashley Gregory, to assist with the toy drive, which was still going on at that point. This was the 10th year the pantry and village had partnered in that effort.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Lt. Anthony Miceli reported the annual Shop with a Cop gathering of gifts was held at Meijer’s grocery store off Illinois 173.

“We want to thank Meijer’s for hosting that for us,” he said. “There was a great turnout. And we want to thank Mr. Richter (Village Administrator James Richter II) for joining us.”

Lt. Miceli is the village’s new public safety supervisor, who coordinates law enforcement services for Machesney Park residents and businesses.

Also at the Dec. 7 board meeting, District 1 Trustee Joe Seipts said he received an email from Jerry Gibson at the Helping Hands Food Pantry, “who we had just donated to for food and stuff right before Thanksgiving. He said he received a phone call from someone in the village about an elderly couple living next door, who had no food and hadn’t eaten for a few days. So the pantry went to work and took them food, along with a turkey and all the trimmings, for Thanksgiving.”

“I just want to again thank the pantry for all they do for the community,” the trustee said. He added that he encouraged people to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly, and just help one another. “Let’s all be safe,” he said. 

During the Dec. 21 board meeting, on the edge of Christmas and bringing down the curtain on the unprecedented year of 2020, Mayor Steve Johnson and trustees offered their wishes to the community they serve for a joyous holiday time.

It was Village Clerk Lori Mitchell’s last meeting as she has announced her retirement after 15 years in that position.

Among her final, official tasks was announcing the winners of the annual holiday lighting contest, who were chosen by a group of Harlem High School students. Here are the addresses: third place, 8509 Cameo Dr.; second place, 8804 Wakefield Dr.; and first place, 9402 Baldwin Dr.

Each place winner received a holiday gift basket filled with gifts that were donated by Machesney Park merchants, along with the clerk herself.

Then she had a say in the final action of the night, which was to tell the board if anyone had signed up to speak during the public comments portion of the agenda. There were none and with that there was the customary motion to adjourn.   

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.