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Edwardsville Township project takes top volunteer award in state

SPRINGFIELD – Edwardsville Township has been selected as the 2014 Governor’s Cup award winner, the top honor in the annual Hometown Awards.

The award honors the top community volunteer effort in the state.

Edwardsville Township was honored for its Boundless Playground, designed to serve the estimated one in 10 children in America who suffer from a disability that makes it difficult to play on a traditional playground.

The Junior Service Club of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon recognized this need and built a playground all children could use. Six hundred community volunteers donated 6,500 hours of service and $63,900 worth of materials toward the project. In addition, $222,500 in private funds was raised to complete the playground.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the winners of the 32nd Annual Governor’s Hometown Awards this week. The awards are presented to recognize volunteers across the state for their work in improving their communities and recipients were honored during a ceremony at the Illinois State Library in Springfield.

The Governor’s Cup is a traveling silver trophy presented to the group whose efforts are deemed most representative of the spirit of Illinois volunteerism.

“The Governor’s Hometown Awards honor groups who have selflessly dedicated their time and efforts to making their communities a better place to live,” Quinn said. “The heart of Illinois is the heart of a volunteer, and we applaud these groups for improving the lives of others and truly making a difference in our state.”

The Governor’s Hometown Award recipients are selected by volunteer judges who review and rank applications based on a variety of factors, including local need, volunteer participation, use of resources and results achieved. The projects are judged within their population categories as well as within their assigned project categories. The project categories include services and mentorship, beautification and sustainability, parks and recreation, memorials and monuments and history and historic preservation. The judges then select one project from each population category to compete for the coveted Governor’s Cup.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers the Governor’s Hometown Awards Program. Each winning group receives a road sign for its community and plaque recognizing its efforts. The Governor’s Cup recipient is given the traveling trophy and a unique road sign that proclaiming its status as award winner that year.

“These awards celebrate the spirit of volunteerism in Illinois,” DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. “They show the connection between grass-roots activism and community improvement. When people unite behind a cause, they make a huge difference in the lives of their neighbors.”

The 13 winning projects represent the work of nearly 2,500 volunteers who devoted almost 30,000 hours of their time. A complete list of all of the winners follows:

Governor’s Cup Winner

Madison County: Edwardsville Township, Boundless Playground. A unique and innovative playground now allows all children to enjoy a day in the park with their families.
Cup Finalists

Cook County: Schaumburg, Older Adult Market. Through a partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Market provides a choice-style food pantry for older adults at no charge.

Macoupin County: Carlinville, Federated Church Take it to Town. Eighteen local organizations had their “dream projects” completed with volunteer labor.

Whiteside County: Morrison, Morrison-Rockwood Recreational Trail. Volunteers worked for 16 years to create the impressive “green” passageway from the community to the Morrison-Rockwood State Park.

Will County: New Lenox, Preparing Citizens for Emergencies and Disasters. The Village was the ninth community in the U.S. to receive the designation as a “Safe Community” by the National Safety Council.

Project Winners

Cook and DuPage Counties: Lemont, Kopz N Kidz Day. The fun-filled day of activities and safety education allows children and families to interact with local police and emergency service personnel.

Jefferson County: Mount Vernon, Veterans Wall of Honor. A vacant hallway in the airport was turned into an educational tribute to local veterans.

Lake County: Round Lake Beach, Cultural and Civic Foundation. The Foundation provides a variety of cultural arts programs, enhancing community pride and civic infrastructure.
McHenry & Kane Counties: Huntley, Green & Clean Huntley Day. More than 40 tons of recyclables were collected while residents learned about sustaining the environment.
Rock Island County: Silvis, Community Garden. A small community garden met the nutritional needs of its tenders and provided over a ton of fresh produce to the local food pantry.

Sangamon County: Chatham, 40th Annual Sweetcorn Festival. One of the area’s most anticipated events, this service project provides more $63,000 in assistance to children.
Sangamon County: Springfield, Illinois Farm Service Agency Community Garden. Partnerships with numerous agriculture related businesses and groups garners a harvest of nearly 17,000 pounds of produce for the food pantry.

Wabash County: Mount Carmel, Children with Disabilities Playground. A request to assist a child with a disability grew into a play area that all could enjoy.

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