Responsibility & Caring: Local Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.  ~Erma Bombeck

If you would like to volunteer your time during the holidays and beyond check out www.volunteermatch,org. Check out the below link to see local opportunities to volunteer your time and talents to help local and regional causes.

Click HERE for list of volunteer opportunities.

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Caring: Layaway Angels Stepping Up [Locally and] Nationwide

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Here’s a story that will make you feel warm and fuzzy. Everyone needs an angel every now and then.

A local man spends hundreds of dollars paying off layaway items for strangers. 23 News reporter Jorge Rodas tells us why this is being done across the country.

I’ve heard people say there’s nothing better than putting a smile on the face of a stranger, so imagine what it feels like to make their holiday. Now imagine getting a surprise in one of the nicest ways possible.

There are many families who are feeling grateful tonight thanks to a few layaway angels — folks going around to stores like Walmart, Toys R Us, Kmart — and completely paying off several layaway accounts. It happens every year but even store managers say it’s special every time. One layaway angel paid off six accounts at the Rockford Kmart on Sandy Hollow Road, paying roughly $700 in all.

Marietta Clark lives in Wichita, Kansas, and had her account paid off by an angel at a Walmart near her home.

“I cried. There’s just so much bad going on,” Clark says. “It’s been kind of a rough year. And to know somebody would step in and not even know us and do it, it’s pretty special.”

There are reports of layaway angels spending as much as $50,000.

The Kmart on Sandy Hollow Road says the layaway angel paid the accounts on Saturday. They tell us the angels usually pick accounts with a lot of kids’ toys on them.


Arts & Recreation: Bless Your Heart to host craft show

ROCKFORD — Bless Your Heart will host a holiday craft show open house from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 19 and from 3 to 9 p.m. Dec. 20 in the Shumway Market Building of the Rockford Area Arts Council, 713 E. State St.

The event will feature a variety of hand-crafted goods, including decorative wooden benches, hand-painted gift bags, seasonal primitive and country wood gift items and seasonal wreaths, as well as holiday refreshments.

Free admission. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Rockford Area Arts Council’s programming. For information:


Arts & Entertainment: Rockford Skating Club offers free holiday show on ice Dec. 21

Staff Report

Rockford Skating Club will present “Snowflakes on Ice,” a holiday ice skating exhibition, at 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 21, at Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park, Illinois. Admission is free.

The Rockford Skating Club is asking audience members to bring a canned good for the Salvation Army.

This all-local show will feature skaters of all ages and levels, along with Makala Arn, a Stillman Valley teen who has been skating in Rockford since she was a tot and still practices in Rockford, although she currently supplements her lessons by commuting into the suburbs to work with the legendary Santee brothers.

Arn is the first female Rockford skater to move on in the qualifying competitions in Singles skating in many years, and she’s done it three years in a row. Skating at the Junior level (one level below Senior, which is the Olympic qualifying level), Arn placed third in the Upper Great Lakes Regionals in October, which qualified her to compete at the Midwest Sectionals, where she placed sixth (Nov. 21-22, 2014). Her spins earned some of the highest marks in the Sectionals.

Many of the local figure skaters featured in “Snowflakes on Ice” have medaled in various competitions around the country.

Rockford Skating Club President Kathleen Ferrero can be reached at for more information.

From the Dec. 17-23, 2014, issue


Red = Stop Texting! Pledge by taking photo of #RedThumbRockford

Check out the RedThumb Photos posted on Twitter!

Hey Rockford Region! Take the Pledge!

1) Paint your Thumbnail or Thumb RED (use a red marker, red nail polish, thumb band etc.)

2) Take photo of your RED Thumb

3) Post photo of your RED Thumb to our Twitter or Instagram page with hashtag #RedThumbRockford (see top right corner of our website for links to all our social media sites) 

Instagram Feed: Click here

Twitter Feed: Click here

4) Share the story: Retweet, Like, etc. When someone sees your RED Thumbnail share the story and you could save a life!

Everyone should join this pledge to stay safe behind the wheel.

Check out below links:

Unity: “If the clergy can get together…maybe the people can get together…” – Pastor Jim Roberts

Faith Leaders Discuss Film on Race Issues

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — In light of nationwide racially-charged protests the last few months, more faith leaders are coming together to talk about how to fix a racial divide locally.

Clergy members met at the YWCA to watch the film “Race: The Power of Illusion.” Today was the last of a three-part workshop to talk about the history behind how skin color first segregated people. Clergy say they have been working on finding a solution for the last four years.

“If the clergy can get together, maybe the congregations can get together, and maybe the people can get together in this city,” says Pastor Jim Roberts, Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

Clergy say they want to show this movie in more churches and community centers throughout the Rockford area to continue a discussion.


Education: The Role of Higher Education in Regional Transformation (Event: Dec 18th)

The Role of Higher Education in Regional Transformation

Universities have always been inextricably linked with the regions they serve.  As the region’s four-year public university, Northern Illinois University is actively engaged with students, alumni, businesses, and civic organizations throughout northern Illinois.  As higher education continues to evolve, NIU and other institutions are creating new methods of operation and collaboration to help prepare their students and their regions for success in the global economy.

Upon becoming the 12th president of NIU in July 2013, Douglas Baker immediately focused on four key goals: ensuring student career success, fostering ethically inspired leadership, creating thriving communities, and strengthening NIU’s financial and program viability.  When he addresses Chamber members, Dr. Baker will provide his perspective on the evolution of higher education, NIU’s progress toward achieving the ambitious goals he established in the first days of his presidency and current and potential engagement activities to help move the region forward.

Registration & More Information

 Sarah Wolf and Mike Schablaske will be attending