Rock Falls couple will feed 32 families on Christmas Day

Devon Nicklaus and Emily Juist will deliver lasagna with a side of holiday cheer

Devon Nicklaus and Emily Juist are shown outside of the Kitchenincubator of NW Illinois on Thanksgiving Day.

ROCK FALLS – Devon Nicklaus had one thought last month after he cooked and delivered Thanksgiving meals to brighten 15 families’ holiday.

Do it again. Only this time, bigger.

And he didn’t want to wait a whole year. Instead, he and his girlfriend Emily Juist pushed forward with plans for a Christmas Day menu.

On Monday, they will feed 32 families a holiday meal that includes lasagna and a loaf of bread, and deliver hot cocoa mix kits and Christmas cookie decorating kits alongside the food to give families something fun to do together. The couple spent Monday night at the Greater Sterling Development Corp.’s Kitchen Incubator of Northwest Illinois, prepping all the Christmas Day lasagnas.

“Everyone worked together. I was pleased with how everything turned out. It was flawless,” Nicklaus said of the November event. “As soon as Thanksgiving was over I knew it was needed and we needed to do more.”

Their thoughts have not only turned to Christmas but to the future. Nicklaus said plans are in the works to create a not-for-profit organization and to make and deliver meals each Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Nicklaus said planning the dinners has been a community effort as people have stepped forward to donate needed items. The Sauk Valley Food Bank donated the meat and sauce for the lasagna. Maria’s Pizza in Dixon gave him loaves of bread to go with the lasagna.

Michelle Sanders of the Regional Office of Education connected Nicklaus, through the NEXUS program, with families who could use the extra help on the holiday. Nicklaus said he expected to help 50 families on Christmas Day; on Tuesday the number was at 32 families. He said employees with the Rock Falls branch of Stering Federal Bank, where Juist is branch manager, also have assisted the couple.

He is appreciative of all the help given to him and Emily as they plan, cook and deliver the meals.

“That’s what I love about it,” he said. “Everybody’s just all about it.”

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.