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Neighbor Week inspiring kind acts

Streator businesses feel the neighborly spirit

Moviegoers stop to chat and get their photo taken Thursday at Streator Eagle 6 with a Mr. Rogers impersonator played by Paul Ahearn. The documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor" premiered at the theater, featuring the story of Fred Rogers, an inspirational children's educational programming host.
Moviegoers stop to chat and get their photo taken Thursday at Streator Eagle 6 with a Mr. Rogers impersonator played by Paul Ahearn. The documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor" premiered at the theater, featuring the story of Fred Rogers, an inspirational children's educational programming host.

When organizer Toni Pettit was working on bringing Won't You Be My Neighbor Week together, she said she wanted the town to catch on with neighborly acts.

To her delight, the spirit has spread.

Won't You Be My Neighbor Week kicked off Thursday to coincide with the premiere of a documentary of the same name featuring Fred Rogers, best known as Mr. Rogers, an influential children's program host on PBS. The themed week continues until Thursday, Aug. 16.

The week of activities will continue with a community cleanup beginning 9 a.m. Saturday at the Greenway trailhead at Madison and Broadway streets and a community picnic 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at City Park, featuring a singalong at 3 p.m. at the Plumb Pavilion.

Some Streator businesses have celebrated the week with their own neighborly acts.

For instance, Flowers Plus, 216 E. Main St., is promoting a "share the love" flower giveaway on its Facebook page. Anyone who knows a shut-in or just someone who could use a smile will be entered into a drawing for free flower deliveries for those people.

The business said the response has been overwhelming.

Hadlee and Reed's Place, located in the Main Street Market, 317 E. Main St., collected donations for Guardian Angel Outreach for the week. The Guardian Angel Outreach program helps to provide infant supplies for those who are local and less fortunate.

The store was offering discounts for customers who donated a package of baby wipes or diapers.

"They've truly embraced the spirit we wanted to share," Pettit said of the businesses.

God's Will Thrift and Vintage Store, 219 E. Main St., dressed up a mannequin in a red cardigan, an iconic look of Mr. Rogers, and placed a Mr. Rogers vinyl record on a nearby coffee table.

"We just want to see people come together as a community," said Jamie Randall, whose mother runs the store. "People have been talking about it when they come in."

Randall said the store has set up a rack of cardigans, and they've sold a few, perhaps for the community picnic's Mr. Rogers look-a-like contest.

Some businesses have put up window displays, like Finefield Pottery and K’s Secret Garden. Others have put up messages on signs. Streator Drugs’ sign, for example, looking west says: “Won’t you be my neighbor.”

OSF Center for Health-Streator is organizing a free vegetable giveaway at the community picnic Sunday from the Community Collaborative Garden and its own clean-up event for Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Other businesses or groups expected to participate in the community picnic include State Farm Insurance-Theresa Solon, ReMax Country Realtors, the Streator Post Office, the Streator Fire Department and Mr. J's.

The Won't You Be My Neighbor committee is promoting its own message to perform a random act of kindness for your neighbor. They also have a contest to nominate someone for being a great neighbor to win prizes.

"We are very grateful for the support," Pettit said. "It's really taken off in our community."

Committee members are Rachel Rapson, Melissa Araujo, Mimi DeCicco, Theresa Solon Wargo, Elaine Schwahn, Charline Arendt, Diane Muntz-Oldenburg, Ron Westerhold, Millie Murphy, Marilyn Champlain and Pettit.

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