United Way hosts kickoff breakfast, food drive

By WEEK Producer

September 6, 2013 Updated Sep 6, 2013 at 7:29 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Heart of Illinois United Way hosted its annual Kickoff Breakfast at the Peoria Civic Center's ballroom Friday morning.

This year's theme was, "There's no place like home for doing good".

At the breakfast, organizers thanked volunteers and donors for their efforts and announced that to date they have raised nearly $1.2 million.

This year's chairpersons, Doug and Vicky Stewart, said the United Way has very special meaning to them.

"My wife and I have been making contributions to the United Way for over 40 years, but I will tell you once you are asked and agree to be the chairman, it's a bit of a dawning task, but what you find out very quickly is how many people care about the United Way and in fact are ready, willing and able to raise their hand to volunteer to help others in our community,” said Doug Stewart.

The United Way also hosted its 22nd annual Day of Caring food drive on Friday.

Over the last four years, the food drive has collected more than 180,000 pounds of food. That food has been donated to more than 135 food pantries.

Volunteers said the food drive goes beyond helping others.

"With the economy heading south the last 5 years, we've seen a dire need for people needing food,” said Don Johnson, Vice President Heart of Illinois United Way. “For those people who donate, we hope they get satisfaction of doing something good for the community because the need for food is greatly risen over the last 2 to 3 years."

The Day of Caring food drive will provide more than 120,000 meals to those in need.

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