Carol Stream task force close to $200,000 goal for veterans memorial
A Carol Stream task force of veterans and village officials has $11,500 left to raise to reach its $200,000 goal for a new memorial to military service under construction at the Ross Ferraro Town Center.
The volunteer group is making a final push in a fundraising campaign launched nearly three years ago to build a new veterans memorial and plaza in honor of those who have served and their families.
With $188,500 raised so far, organizers hope to reach their goal to complete the project two weeks before Memorial Day and unveil the new space during the village's annual observance.
"Memorial Day is when we're going to be thanking a whole lot of people. That's for sure," said Jim Benzin, a Vietnam veteran and member of the task force.
He was supposed to retire more than two years ago as the commander of Carol Stream's VFW Post, but his job isn't done until the new memorial is.
So even though the fundraising efforts have taken years, Benzin isn't fazed by the work still left to do. Instead, he's amazed by the support from just about every corner of town.
"It's been mostly donations from the community and the community businesses," Benzin said Wednesday.
Mayor Frank Saverino and village trustees have hosted fundraisers. Companies have signed checks.
Restaurants have donated proceeds.
And the task force is holding yet another spaghetti dinner at American Legion Post 76 from 1 to 5 p.m. March 10.
Tickets are $15 and $5 for children younger than 10.
The VFW Post alone, a group with "10 active guys," has donated almost $4,500 for the memorial, Benzin said.
Donations also can be made on a GoFundMe page asking supporters to share their favorite branch of the military to see which one can the raise the most money in a "good-natured competition" (the Marines were leading Wednesday) as organizers continue to garner funds for monuments for all five branches.
Commemorative brick orders purchased to honor service members are another ongoing source of funds for the project.
The first wave of bricks have been ordered and will be installed for opening day, said Carol Stream Park District Executive Director Jim Reuter, another leader of the task force.
Reuter said organizers are "doing everything to reduce" expenses and seek donations of items still needed, including landscaping, as they're closing in on their fundraising target.
"It is an amazing accomplishment for the veterans, task force and all the people who have supported this project since its inception," Reuter said in an email.
Last September, the task force broke ground on the memorial -- built in a solemn, circular plaza near the Town Center's archway -- even though the group still had about $60,000 left to raise at the time.
Since the ceremony, about half of the construction work has been done, with foundations for a seat wall, the flagpoles, the monuments, the rough grading and excavation completed, Reuter said.
The list of what's left to do includes installing the monuments, pavers, a precast star, lighting, masonry and veneer for the seat wall, the southernmost landscape bed, flagpoles and the finished grade landscape, Reuter said.
"Of course the community has been awesome, and we have probably tapped into everyone and anyone to get us to where we are today. But the task force has been continuously asking for contributions, and we could still use some help financially."