For more than 20 years, the Naperville Jaycees have transformed Rotary Hill into a concert venue and the Riverwalk into an area for food and rides. But the Last Fling is about more than just fun, it’s their biggest fundraiser of the year.
“The purpose of the event is to celebrate with the city and the town of Naperville, but we raise funds to give back to the community,” said Jaycee Member Laurie DeKruiff.
Over the past two decades they have raised more than $2 million for Naperville area not for profits.
Our Children’s Homestead provides foster care and adoption services for some of the neediest children in the state. Their goal is to find a permanent home solution for every child, allowing them to have a fair chance at life. The Jaycees have helped support their cause for more than 10 years, granting them more than $20,000.
“For these foster kids, it’s very important that they know that they have a community and a team behind them, supporting them, to help them over come the struggles they’ve had in their life,” said Kirstin Samp, Vice President of Development and Marketing for Our Children’s Homestead. “The Naperville Jaycees is a great example of that.”
And it doesn’t stop with the Last Fling. Many of the Jaycees’ partnerships in the community continue all year round. Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry serves over 2,300 needy families a month. The two organizations partner for Loaves & Fishes’ Holiday food baskets for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
“They help raise funds, they help us purchase the food, they help us collect the food in the fall harvest food drive, and they help us deliver it to our homebound and elderly clients,” said Charles McLimans, Executive Director and CEO of Loaves & Fishes. “They help the food distribution during the holidays giving it to other clients. So that is a huge partnership.”
The Last Fling is completely staffed by volunteers from both the Jaycees and their partnering agencies. Working a four-day festival can be exhausting, but volunteers say the end result is worth every minute.
“When you’re here at the event watching people enjoy themselves, it’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I was part of that,’” said DeKruiff. “It feels good. After we find out what kind of money we have to give out, it’s even better. It’s just a really neat feeling.”
The Jaycees raise about $150,000 a year and donate to nearly 100 organizations.
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