The Hillsboro Area Hospital Summer Lunch Program (SLP) recently finished its 2019 program, serving nearly 1,500 summer meals to children in Hillsboro, Witt, and Irving.
The SLP provides meals and activities five days per week during the months of June and July. All children, 18 years and younger, are welcome to take part in the program. The program has grown and run successfully for seven years due to the generosity and commitment of many people and organizations. We are very grateful to partner with the USDA and the Illinois State Board of Education to provide funding for daily food. However, the cooperation of our community is the real key to the success of this program.
We would like to begin by thanking Hillsboro Area Hospital. Without their help and commitment to this program, it is unlikely that it would exist. HAH opened their doors to us in 2013 and has worked to help us improve the program each year. On any given day, 30 to 60 hungry and energetic children enter those doors. The administration and staff are amazing! The hospital has very generously allowed us to begin each day using the beautiful Fusion facility. We have four swim days and one gym day each week. Many thanks go out to the Fusion front desk staff and lifeguards.
After the activity, we head to the cafeteria for lunch. We are so grateful to the cafeteria staff who prepare delicious, nutritious, hot meals for us daily, pack and send meals to the out of town sites, and still continue to serve the hospital employees and patients. We are welcomed and served in the cafeteria, which means hospital employees must rearrange their lunch schedules to accommodate our group. Thank you to all who have been inconvenienced and to all who sometimes even stay and help us!
After lunch, housekeeping is always ready and waiting to clean up the messes that 60 children can make on any given day. Thank you, also, to Tremont Ridge for providing school supplies each year to all our participants. How fortunate we are to have our hospital so involved in our community!
The summer program also would not be possible if it were not for the many volunteers who help daily. Four to five people are needed at the hospital each day for the program to run safely and smoothly. Whether you volunteered one day or came on a regular basis, thank you, thank you for your help and dedication. We are thrilled to have been able to open sites in Witt, Irving, and Coffeen the past two years. Many thanks go out to the drivers delivering meals each day at those sites and to the volunteers running the sites at the Witt Lions Club, the Irving United Methodist Church, and the Coffeen United Methodist Church.
We also want to thank the Hillsboro School District for allowing us to rent a district school bus driven by Brian Redman. The funds for this have been donated through the generosity of many individuals and service groups in our community. They have made it possible for most of the children attending to get to the program, and having the bus has also allowed us the opportunity to transport children from the out of town sites two days each week to participate in our Fusion activities and enjoy a hot meal.
Finally, we would like to add a special thanks to the family of Dana Hodges Denny. They have tirelessly worked to raise funds to provide weekend food bags to help families stretch their dollars throughout the summer months. Dana's mother, Kim Blackburn, has shared with us Dana's desire to help children. Many are benefiting in her memory.