The Hoopeston Jaycees presented two chapter awards during Saturday’s Community Awards Ceremony at the Lorraine Theatre.
Hoopeston Jaycees Chapter President Callie Lankford presented the Odell Crabtree Associate of the Year Award to her mother, Connie Huffman.
Lankford explained that Jaycee bylaws require that Jaycees members be between the ages of 18-41, so anyone assisting the group who is older than that is considered an associate member.
“Our chapter could not survive without our associate members, who are over the age limit but provide valuable time, knowledge and resources to our projects,” she said.
Huffman has been one of the group’s most vital members when it comes to projects like the Toys for Kids and Birthday Club over the past six years, Lankford said.
“With her thrifty shopping, we have been able to increase the quantity and quality of gifts for underprivileged youths in our community while maintaining our limited budget,” she said.
Beyond these efforts, Lankford said Huffman is a fixture in any project the chapter takes on.
“She can be seen stuffing eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt, rolling dice and giving gifts at post prom or making Italian Beef for her first time ever at our Miss Hoopeston fundraising dinner last night,”she said. “During festival weekend, you’ll find her selling official souvenirs, scooping pudding for the pie eating contest or registering babies for the Pretty Baby Contest.”
Lankford said Huffman has supported all of her ideas for projects and has helped make those ideas a reality.
“If you’ve enjoyed any of my crazy ideas for projects or entertainment during my time with the Jaycees, it is because I’ve had the full support of this award winner,” Lankford said. “I’m lucky to call her my sidekick for volunteering, but even luckier to call her my sidekick since birth.”
Huffman, upon receiving her award, thanked Lankford and the Jaycees for allowing her to help serve the community.
“I want to thank you for allowing me to do these things,” she said. “A lot of our events take us to the United Methodist Church across the street and, as you walk in the doors that are on street level it says ‘Servant’s Entrance.’ The best way to become a leader is to first become a servant and I want to thank you all for allowing me to be your servant. Thank you.”
The final chapter award of the day was the Friend of the Jaycees Award and it was presented to Robin Lawson, owner of Global Fashions.
Lankford said the Hoopeston Jaycees chapter is made up of a small group of individuals, who are always looking for new members, and could not continue their yearly operations without the assistance of not only associate members but businesses, organizations and individuals who are friends of the Jaycees.
Lankford said Lawson gives back to the chapter in a number of ways whenever they ask throughout the year.
“She has donated meals to Post Prom and National Sweetheart Pageant judges. She advertises our fundraising and community events,” she said. “The biggest assist this award winner gives us is her time, patience and flexibility in selling and managing pre-sales for the National Sweetcorn Festival, that include souvenirs, gate passes, concert tickets, annex passes and ride bracelets. We would be unable to reach the number of citizens she reaches on a daily basis and, with her help, we are able to not only maximize our, at times, limited profits for the National Sweetcorn Festival, but also provide some money-saving deals to patrons.”
Lankford said Lawson is not only a well-loved friend of the Jaycees, but a well-loved friend of the entire city of Hoopeston.
Lawson thanked the Jaycees for the award.
“Wow,” she said. “Thank you for allowing me to be here with you. Thank you.”