CAIRO, IL — Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza was in Cairo, Illinois on Monday to host the sixth annual Thanksgiving turkey raffle.
Mendoza’s office worked with LiUNA Workers Local 773, human services nonprofit Arrowleaf, local officials and Krispy Kreme to provide the turkey giveaway.
“I come to southern Illinois throughout the year, several times. But this event is extra special because I get to meet so many residents who are going through tough times and make sure they know they’re not alone. They’re not forgotten . I have their back,” Mendoza said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
Mendoza’s office donated frozen turkeys for the raffle, and her staff also donated rice, beans and cookies to the Cairo Women’s Shelter, which supports people affected by domestic violence in Alexander, Hardin, Massac counties , Pulaski, Pope and Union. The Cairo women’s shelter serves about 400 clients annually, according to Mendoza’s office.
Arrowleaf organizers say Laborers’ Local 773 donated side dishes to go with the turkeys. Additionally, Operation Warm donated coats and shoes for children, Walmart donated backpacks and Krispy Kreme donated boxes of donuts. Organizers say the donated items were delivered by Mendoza and his staff, Representative Patrick Windhorst, Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson, people from Laborers’ Local 773 and Arrowleaf staff members. Mendoza’s office says state Sen. Dale Fowler of Harrisburg partnered with the comptroller on the event from the beginning, but was unable to attend the drawing Monday.
Simpson said it’s encouraging to see government officials taking an interest in their city. “It means a lot to me,” he said in a statement. “My goal has been to change the vision and opinions of the people here, and to let people know that things are not the way they were before, and this is a different time.”
Windhorst said it was encouraging to see people working together to help their fellow Illinoisans. “See our friends at work, the comptroller, the mayor and other government officials coming together to make our community better. Showing our support, especially during the holiday season, really means a lot to the citizens here to see’ ns working together,” Windhorst said in a statement.
Arrowleaf hosted the event and giveaway site. Mendoza’s office says the nonprofit identified local families in need of turkey donations and helped arrange transportation. Arrowleaf offers a food pantry open 40 hours a week in the community.
“We are very grateful that the Comptroller continues to come to Cairo,” Sherrie Crabb, CEO of Arrowleaf, said in a statement. “She’s a familiar face and she’s very welcome in our community because residents see her constantly contributing and that she’s interested in them and what’s going on here. I think that means a lot to the people who live in this community.”
Mendoza’s office says this is the fourth year Workers Local 773 has raised funds for the 150 turkeys and 600 cans of vegetables donated to families in Cairo. “Alexander County is one of the poorest counties in our state, and not only that, it’s also a food desert,” Jerry Womick, business director for Labor Local 773, said in a statement. “To be able to come out and provide some of the basics for Thanksgiving dinner, it just makes perfect sense. We’re glad to have the ability to help and do our part.”
Marion, Ill., Krispy Kreme CEO Angela Jones said the business was happy to contribute boxes of donuts to go along with the Thanksgiving food donations.
Mendoza’s office says Cairo is slated for a major redevelopment project in the Alexander-Cairo Harbor District as part of the state’s Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan. This project is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the region and rebuild the port for trade.