... and a tremendous thank you to firefighters, police, rescue workers, Connect Transit, Red Cross, Stevenson School, IHOP, IDOT, public service workers, churches and everyone who donated or otherwise helped during and after last weekend's devastating apartment house fire in Bloomington.
Seven families — a total of 29 people – lost their homes and all they owned when a fire of undetermined origin tore through 1101 Gettysburg Drive.
Firefighters from Bloomington and Normal worked for hours to put out the blaze on a cold day, while firefighters from other departments helped staff their stations. Connect Transit provided buses to take the families to the nearby Red Cross office; IHOP provided warm drinks for emergency workers; Illinois Department of Transportation and Bloomington public service workers helped salt roads; police blocked traffic; rescue workers helped the injured and overwhelmed; and Stevenson School started a collection of clothes, toys, personal items, bedding and other items that filled its gym.
By Sunday night, every family had $125 in gift cards plus enough clothing and personal necessities to get through the next few days.
Stevenson staff, between sorting gifts and helping families, hosted a spaghetti meal for the displaced families.
It's no secret that McLean County residents are among the most giving and thoughtful people in Central Illinois. That was proved, again, with the depth and speed with which they reacted last week.
... to Mayor Tari Renner for his inappropriate behavior at Monday night's City Council meeting.
Council members have a right to speak during meetings and to share their opinions and don't deserve to be interrupted. They, too, represent the people of Bloomington.
... to all the Olympics athletes (formal and couch) who are enjoying the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Whether you follow the more traditional sports like figure skating and skiing, or have gotten entranced with the aerobatics involved with snowboarding, the sheer joy of the athletes doing their best is a sight to see.
Ready, set, eat
... the annual pancake and sausage meal hosted by Bloomington Kiwanis will be Feb. 24-25 in the lower-level ballroom of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts downtown.
Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children under 5. Advance tickets are $6 for adults.
Proceeds benefit the club's signature project of sending deserving local children to Camp Limberlost at Lake Bloomington over the summer, as well as other youth programs.
The pancake fundraiser, which attracts more than 3,000 people each year, has been around since 1951.