Elk Grove Village counts on character
Elk Grove Village residents take their pledge to promote character within their community seriously.
What once was the backbone of school curriculum material now permeates every level of village government, small businesses, clubs and organizations, and even churches.
That kind of widespread support was evident Thursday at the village's first Community Social, hosted by members of Elk Grove Village's Community Character Coalition.
"This has really taken off - and made a difference in our community," said Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson.
The social was held at the Sheila Ray Senior Center, located within the Hattendorf Center in Elk Grove. Consequently, it drew a strong response from seniors, but families attended as well.
Free food provided by Tasty Catering of Elk Grove was a big draw, but residents also found the community event a chance to mingle with school officials, police and local government leaders.
"There's such a feeling of camaraderie with all the games and the food," said resident Muriel Anderson. "And you get to meet so many people."
Residents also visited booths set up by coalition members, including one that offered a chance to participate in one of their sponsored activities, writing letters to the troops.
With four service personnel from Elk Grove Village having lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, residents feel strongly about supporting the military overseas. Working through the Heart of a Marine Foundation, Elk Grove students and residents combined last year to send more than 3,000 letters.
Nearly 2,000 of those were written by Elk Grove High School students, and its administrators pledged again to support the campaign.
"We weave it into classroom instruction, so that students have a chance to support service personnel and see what an impact it can make," said Principal Nancy Holman.
Erica Nielsen, 13, was one of the first students on Thursday to write a letter and place it in a box to be shipped to the troops.
"I just told them that I appreciated everything they were doing," said Nielsen, an eighth-grader, "and that I am praying for their safety."
Ray Benedetto, who gave the keynote address before leading the crowd in the "Six Pillars Shuffle" said the community coming together makes the village unique.
"We're celebrating human strength," Benedetto said, "because that's what builds character."