The Salvation Army of Pekin held its 2017 Annual Dinner Monday at the Pekin Country Club. The purpose of the event, other than to provide an opportunity to socialize and raise funds, was to recognize the past year’s outstanding volunteers from the 2016 Red Kettle Christmas Campaign and to kick off 2017’s campaign.

“It warms my heart to see so much support from the community for the Salvation Army,” said Jim Prichard, corps administrator of the Salvation Army of Pekin.

Red Kettles were placed at each table to entice diners to become donors. The Salvation Army of Pekin also held a silent auction, for which businesses in the area donated items that included legal services or free wills from the Law Offices of Joseph W. Dunn, season passes to DragonLand Water Park, and four rounds of golf at Parkview Golf Course. Near the end of the meal, performers from Pekin Community High School Drama entertained guests with a short play titled “Sally Cotter and the Censored Stone,” a parody of British author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise.

After dinner, the Salvation Army recognized outstanding fundraisers from the 2016 Red Kettle Christmas Campaign. The top bell-ringing group was the Pekin Kiwanis Club, which raised $4,135.08. The top paid bell-ringer was Dale Holmes, who raised $9,004.02. In all, the Salvation Army of Pekin raised over $192,000 with its 2016 Christmas fund drive, missing its 2016 goal of $200,000. This year’s goal is also $200,000.

Among the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Others Award to honor a person from the Pekin community who constantly thinks of others and how best to help them. This year’s recipient was Matt Deverman, a member of the Salvation Army of Pekin’s advisory board.

“Matt donates his considerable talent to other non-profit organizations in addition to working on our advisory board,” said Pat Fort, Salvation Army of Pekin Advisory Board chairman. “As a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board for five years, he has served on the Christmas Committee, helped with public relations, and served on nominating committees. His company, Deverman Advertising, took on the task of building a new website for the Salvation Army, saving us thousands of dollars.”

“I love helping people from the bottom of my heart,” Deverman said to those in attendance Monday. “Hopefully, I can give back as much as I can to my community, which has given me so much. I encourage everyone in this room to do the same.”

Deverman also produced a special video that followed his remarks. The presentation, titled “Steve’s Story,” was a success story about Steve Holmes, a Pekinite who was homeless and unemployed when he turned to the Salvation Army’s Harold J. Rust Transitional Center for help. The Rust Center’s Pathway of Hope program quickly helped Holmes find housing and employment. 

“From the time I came to the Rust Center to the time I found work and housing, (it) took about 90 days,” said Holmes.

The Rust Center provides shelter, meals and case management services designed to help the adult identify and work on the underlying causes of their homelessness. In the past year, the Rust Center has served 163 single adults and 104 families with children, provided 5,380 nights of shelter and served 19,633 meals. For more information, visit the Salvation Army of Pekin’s website at www.salvationarmypekin.org.