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Donated Van Allows Peace Meal Funding to Stay Focused on Meals

Sep-21-2012

Shown, from left to right, are Alex Feliciano; Rene Hutchinson; Roger Kratochvil, chair, EIU Board of Trustees; Barbra Wylie; and EIU President Bill Perry.

Less money spent on vehicle repair means more money to spend directly on meals for those who need them.

That’s the bottom line for Barbra Wylie, director of Eastern Illinois University’s Peace Meal Senior Nutrition Program, who gratefully accepted a “gently used” van donated by Allstate Insurance Company.  Prior to being delivered to the EIU campus, the 2006 Kia Sedona was refurbished to “like new” condition by Sterling Autobody of East Dundee as a part of the Recycled Rides Program.

Recycled Rides is a national community service project whereby members of the National Auto Body Council repair and donate vehicles to families and service organizations in need.  The program recruits repairers, insurers, paint suppliers, parts vendors and others, “to contribute in their own, yet synergistic ways,” to mobilize those in need.

The program benefits, among others, low-income families, military families and organizations in need, victims of domestic violence, service organizations in need, people with medical needs and victims of natural disasters.

Allstate and Sterling teamed up with Recycled Rides six years ago and, to date, have gifted more than 100 vehicles to local charities and families across the country.

The gift to Eastern was triggered by Rene Hutchinson, a 25-year employee of Allstate and EIU alumnus who also serves on EIU’s Board of Trustees.  He, along with Alex Feliciano, regional director for Sterling Autobody Centers, were the guests of honor at Friday’s official presentation.

“Sterling is extremely proud to be part of the Recycled Rides program,” Feliciano said.  “We believe it’s important to give back to our local communities, and Recycled Rides allows our employees to use their time and talents to make a significant difference in the lives of many.”

Peace Meal Senior Nutrition serves between 1,400 and 1,500 meals a day, Monday through Friday, to eligible individuals in 14 east-central Illinois counties – Champaign, Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Moultrie, Piatt and Shelby.

The suggested donation for meals is $3.50; however, no one is refused service for inability to contribute a donation toward a meal.  While targeted populations include the most at-risk senior citizens, the program seeks to serve all seniors who are in need of nutritional support with a focus on those who are low income, live alone, and who are a minority or female head of a household.

Central Peace Meal kitchens are located in Bloomington, Mattoon, Oakland, Rantoul and Toledo.  According to Wylie, the newly acquired van will be based out of one of those central kitchens and serve three counties.

“We’re so appreciative of this gift,” she said.  “We were at the point of having to have one of our older vehicles fixed all the time.  And that, of course, was costing money that could be better spent on food and other needed supplies.

“It’s nice to be able to have a safer, more reliable vehicle out on the road,” she added.