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S.I. Made Expo announces new charity

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CARTERVILLE (WSIL) -- Southern Illinois Made Expo announces it will return in the fall of 2021 and proceeds from the event will benefit Operation Honor Guard.

State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg), Karen Mullins, Executive Director of Marion Chamber of Commerce, Doug Kimmel with Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois, and Rich Darby the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Honor Guard stopped by the News 3 This Morning show to make the announcement.

“In past years, the Southern Illinois Made Expo has been such a blessing to our chosen charity, the Southern Illinois Honor Flight. The support and generosity shown by the community have never ceased to amaze,” said Sen. Fowler. “Now, as we’re gearing up to bring this event back bigger and better than before, we are looking to expand to another great cause in the region.”

In previous years, the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois has been the named charity of the Southern Illinois Made Expo.

“The Southern Illinois Honor Flight program has been blessed in previous years to partner with Sen. Fowler and the Expo to help fund flights for area veterans. The support our veterans have received has been amazing and we are so thankful,” said Bryan Questelle, the President of the Southern Illinois Honor Flight program. “We recognize that the pandemic has been devastating for so many businesses and organizations. This is why we are happy to step into a new role for this year as Expo partners and welcome a new charity to benefit from the generosity of so many seeking to support our nation’s heroes.”

Operation Honor Guard seeks to raise money for veteran service organizations that provide military funerals for fallen veterans. The organization is comprised entirely of volunteers who must purchase the appropriate gear and attire needed to pay tribute and honor veterans who
have passed. However, gear and equipment are expensive, costing approximately $1,000 to outfit one honor guard member. That does not include rifle repair, flags, hats, and rain gear.

"These donations that will be received during the Expo are literally answered prayers for us. During Covid, all our fundraising activities ceased. The need for financial support is greater than ever,” said Rich Darby, the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Honor Guard. “A donation to Operation Honor Guard helps ensure that final military honors at a fallen veteran's funeral will continue throughout Southern Illinois. We are so grateful to Senator Dale Fowler for his support and belief in our Southern Illinois Honor Guards."

“Operation Honor Guard is an amazing charity that seeks to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed for our country,” said Sen. Fowler. “We hope that this Expo can help them carry out their mission to honor our nation’s heroes.”

Proceeds from the Expo will be split equally and sent to honor guards throughout 20 Southern Illinois communities. Most honor guards have at least a dozen honor guard members.

“We are so excited that the Expo is returning this year to give our business community a platform to showcase their products, goods, and locations. The business community has been devastated by this pandemic and bringing this event back is such great news for the region,” said Karen Mullins, the Executive Director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce. “We’re especially excited that we can host this event to support our businesses while giving back to the community. Operation Honor Guard is a great cause and we’re excited to bring them on board.”

“Local businesses are the backbone of our economy, and I am looking forward to bringing the Expo back to Southern Illinois,” said Sen. Fowler. “The fact that we are supporting our business community while giving back to our veterans is a real blessing.”

The Southern Illinois Made Expo is scheduled for Saturday, October 9, and Sunday, October 10. On both days the event will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Pavilion of the City of Marion.

Registration for the event will open in the coming weeks. Visit SImade.org for more information.

Those interested in donating to Operation Honor Guard can visit https://www.operationhonorguard.us.

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Dave Davis

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