Leaders, guests, volunteers unite in Love Elgin Day
By Romi Herron For Sun-Times Media September 29, 2013 7:30PM
Cameron Harms of Genoa volunteers at Love Elgin Day, distributing free bars of soap. | Romi Herron ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2013 6:13AM
ELGIN — As hundreds lined up inside First United Methodist Church on Saturday, where free groceries and clothing were distributed, a handful of people took some time for reflection at nearby Carleton Rogers Park. There, Love Elgin Day volunteer Marisa Holguin of Elgin sang original vocals that she says she wrote to give hope.
Love Elgin Day is a multi-denominational church outreach program founded by Pastor Jeorge Holmes in April 2012. Saturday’s event marked the fourth biannual occasion, which is held at five host churches in downtown Elgin. An additional 35 churches also support the effort by garnering donations, Holmes said.
“I’ve seen the churches and individuals unite together and work together for a common goal to help those who are under-resourced,” Holmes said Saturday as he checked in guests during the event, which ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Vineyard Church, Iglesia Carismática Puerta de Sion, Family Life Church, First Congregational Church and First United Methodist Church. Free food and personal hygiene items, clothing and shoes, medical and dental screenings, professional legal counsel, haircuts, manicures, massage therapy, bicycle repair, automotive services and family portraiture were offered.
Division Street was closed to traffic between Center and Spring streets for the event, and band performances and dancers were scheduled throughout the day at Carleton Rogers Park.
As Love Elgin Day has grown since its inception, so too has involvement from the guests. Holmes described them as grateful and appreciative to receive much-needed resources. An “Ask the Pastor” station presented an opportunity for guests to ask questions about local, national and international issues, Holmes said. The bike repair area, too, has grown significantly. At the first event in April 2012, two volunteers repaired 10 bicycles; in April 2013, a team of six volunteers fixed 60 bikes.
In addition, personal involvement is on the rise.
“I’ve seen the clients come through with a smile on their faces,” he said. “Many of them have volunteered to help at future events.” Holmes estimates about one-fifth of the clients have asked about volunteering. Currently, the volunteer roster has about 300 people involved.
Angie Holguin of Elgin said she convinced her reluctant daughter Marisa, 18, to share her songs at the event. Both sing in worship services at Family Life Church in Elgin and volunteer with Love Elgin Day.
Marisa Holguin said that although she finds herself less of a public performer than a worship participant, her original songs and keyboarding have given her an outlet through which she has journaled her own struggles.
“A note can express how you feel,” she said. “The minor chords kind of have this emotional feeling that kind of punches you in the stomach.”
Aside from providing entertainment, music provides understanding, comfort and hope, she added.
“I started getting a passion for music when I joined the church 11 years ago,” she said. “Like a diary, I just started writing music, about things that inspire me, things that hurt me, or just about broken people.”
Love Elgin Day is held on the last Saturday of April and last Saturday of September of each year. More information about Love Elgin Day is available at www.LoveElginDay.org.