Herald-Angels: Unprecedented need — unprecedented response

Joliet Herald-News Steve Vanisko on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, in Joliet, Ill.

When it came time for the 2020 Herald Angels Campaign, we really didn’t know what to expect.

Just like everywhere else, our area was in the midst of an economically crushing pandemic. Herald-News reporter Denise Baran-Unland detailed the situation in her Nov. 22 article. Despite an “unprecedented need” for assistance, The United Way of Will County had been forced to cancel one of their family support days that it co-hosts every year. Some organizations were seeing a 300% increase in requests from the community. Certainly not a good situation.

Realizing that most everyone was negatively impacted, we thought maybe we’d be able to bring in about 80% of what we had in 2019. In actual dollars, we figured $5,000 in donations would be good since we had just under $6,000 last year.

Talk about a miscalculation.

Almost immediately after the Nov. 22 article was published, the checks started rolling in. And they continued until we received our last one on Dec. 31. We received 204 donations ranging from $5 to $300. Then there was one additional donation bringing the total to 205. This “Anonymous” donation was for $3,500 — far and away exceeding any single donation we have received in the 25-year history of the campaign.

We received an “unprecedented response” totaling $14,655. That’s right, more than double the total from 2019! As promised, every dollar will be donated directly to the United Way of Will County which funds programs that help local residents remain independent, healthy and safe in their everyday lives.

So, what’s to be made of this incredible response? First and foremost, never underestimate the good in other people. Those that donated did so when others in our community needed it most. Your acts of kindness will go a long way toward making your fellow resident’s lives just a little bit better.

Second, thank you for also trusting and supporting this campaign. We’ve been doing this since 1997 and certainly plan on doing it again next year.

Hopefully, we can set another record.