Guest Column: Earth Angels spread cheer to the needy

Because of everyone’s kindness and generosity, the Earth Angel mission was once again a tremendous success this past year! Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we were able to reach out and bring a little joy and happiness to 617 children this past holiday! This included four families in Winnebago County, one in Stephenson County, two in Lee County with the remaining ones all residing in Ogle County. This also included families in our five military branches, or 70 children from 26 families!

This year, we started our project earlier, kicking it off at Merlin’s Greenhouse Florist’s annual weekend Christmas open house in mid-November. Having 10 drop sites immediately up and running thereafter gave us a full month for everyone to be able to participate. Once again, we also had recipients and volunteers returning from previous years, either donating a gift or contributing time in helping, or did both! We had new volunteers and drivers for deliveries coming and going, each wanting to reach out and help or give back to the community. Isn’t that great?! Even my daughter drove up for the day (from the Lake Shelbyville area) with my granddaughter (from college) to help out on pick-up day from all the distribution sites. Some of you spotted that big yellow “Tonka” truck running around town that day! With everyone’s help, we had everything back at Earth Angel’s headquarters, the Mt. Morris Senior Center, by 1 o’clock! Whew! This year, a lot of gifts were already gift wrapped, saving a lot of time and being ready for distribution earlier. THANK YOU! That is what Christmas spirit is all about, a community coming together, reaching out to someone and letting them know someone cares.

Of course, no good deed should go unnoticed; therefore, I must take a moment to say A BIG THANK YOU to the overwhelming generosity and opened hearts of all my Earth Angels from corporate sponsors, emplyees and staff who helped make this all possible, specifically:

Quebecor World, Mt. Morris

Kable News, Mt. Morris

Mt. Morris Senior Center

Mt. Morris Savings & Loan

M&M’s Supermarket, Mt. Morris

Merlin’s Greenhouse & Flowers, Oregon

Rock River Center, Oregon

Forreston Library

Forreston State Bank

Leaf River Library

Citgo, Leaf River

ALL the volunteers and drivers and senior Santa elves (you know who you are…)

ALL the newspaper media and fine journalists who helped get the word out, and let’s not forget Steve Summers from Q98.5!

Remember: “every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets his wings.” Each year when we start this project, there is only a single bell ringing. If you would’ve listened hard on Dec. 25, 2006, there was a crescendo of bells ringing, making Ogle County once again the largest group of bell-ringing earth angels this year!

Note: If you were able to sponsor a child by donating a gift or contributed in another way, please check with your drop site to receive your Earth Angel wings, a small token of my way of saying thank you, and God bless!

Editor’s Note: This is the third year for the Earth Angels program. The first year, they reached 427 children, the second year, 472 were helped, and this year it’s 617. Linda Straith, “Granny,” is grandmother of eight children. After surviving some severe medical problems a few years ago, she wanted to do something to show her gratitude to the community that helped her. That was how the Earth Angel program began. They now work with the Department of Human Services and WIC as well as other agencies; this year, they combined efforts with about 12 groups. The organization has an interactive Web site: For e-mail, contact

from the issue March 14-20, 2007, issue

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