| Special to The Journal-Standard
FREEPORT — A night of costumes, celebrity waiters and frivolity gave the United Way’s Celebrity Dinner fundraiser Saturday a pre-pandemic feel.
Connie Kraft, executive director of United Way of Northwest Illinois, said she was excited for the return of the event that puts the word “fun” into fundraising.
“Technically, this is our 22nd dinner, with a couple of years off,” Kraft said. “It has been a lean couple of years for United Way, but the community has been great in the interim, and the donors have stepped up.”
It has been two years since United Way has been able to host the fundraiser, which raises money for community partners.
“There are so many diverse needs within our community. This event is a great way to tip-toe back to some normalcy,” Kraft said.
Each table of VIP guests created a theme for the evening.
Themes ranged from the “Roaring 20s” to the “Price Is Right.” Freeport Police Chief Matt Summers was the celebrity waiter for the “Law Enforcement for the Community” table.
Summers and others went around the room at the Freeport Club selling everything from desserts to photographs to the nearly 100 people in attendance. Their proceeds went toward the United Way’s $15,000 campaign goal.
Hughes Resources dressed as the “Pink Ladies” and sold candy and snacks.
Mark Williams, executive director for the Greater Freeport Partnership, dressed in Roaring 20s attire and posed for photos with guests.
“This is what the United Way stands for — helping others from the money raised by the community,” Williams said. “This is a great way to help move the community forward of the ongoing effort to help people in need.”
World Impact Ministries COGIC won the trophy for the best table theme with “The Price is Right.”
Deontae Collier Sr. accepted the trophy with other members of the team, thankful to be part of something positive.
“It’s great to be back after the pandemic,” Collier said. “The key result of the event is to have a positive effect on the community.”
Jane Lethlean is a freelance correspondent.
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