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Stateline man makes care packages for people with developmental disabilities

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ROCKTON (WREX) — It all started when Kris Wilcoxen's daughter finished preschool for the year.

She was sitting around bored with not much to do with COVID-19 in full force.

Wilcoxen began to think if his daughter was struggling to find fun, then other people must be having the same difficulty, if not worse.

"We just thought how are we going to help someone else. How can we love on someone else and help them get through this," Wilcoxen said.

"Them" became residents at Goldie B. Floberg Center in Rockton.

The center has been in the stateline for over a century, working with people that have developmental disabilities in Winnebago County.

Wilcoxen was familiar with Goldie B. Floberg through his work as an agency sales manager for American Republic Insurance Services.

He wanted to provide residents with something to get them excited about being outside again.

The idea led to Wilcoxen to cleaning out stores for a lot of outdoor activities to make "fun boxes" for people at the center.

"We got kites, sidewalk chalk, the bubble guns which I guess are a new thing. There's sprinklers, frisbees, just a lot of different things," Wilcoxen said.

"We knew we wanted to give and love on an organization and we know how great Goldie B Floberg is and what they do."

The boxes of toys, along with a prepaid pizza party, were hand delivered to the resident's homes to surprise them.

Safe to say, it put a smile on everyone's face, including Wilcoxen.

"It was fantastic, waking up this morning I felt like it was Christmas for me to be able to give to others," Wilcoxen said.

"Seeing the folks that are in that home, it was great knowing they're going to have fun with the pizza party and all those outdoor activities. It just fills your heart."

Wilcoxen didn't just bring gifts for the residents in his summer Santa Claus role.

He also made gift bags to give to the staff at Goldie B. Floberg who work with the in-house residents everyday.

Leaders with the Floberg Center are grateful someone took the time to think about them during this difficult time.

"Often times, our direct support professionals are kind of under the radar. I would describe them as unsung heroes," Goldie B. Floberg president & CEO John Pingo said.

"Just the fact that they took the time, the effort and the money to recognize them and say hey we know you are doing a great job and we appreciate the work you do for people with developmental disabilities and for our community and that just means the world to us. We can't thank them enough."

The mission of Goldie B. Floberg is "to empower and enrich the lives of people served."

While that oath became challenging during the pandemic, thanks to Wilcoxen, the Floberg Center, both residents and staff, has a boost of energy to keep them moving forward.

"It was just an incredible thoughtful thing for them to do and it's just the kind of pick me up and bit of fun our agency needed," Pingo said.

Click here to learn more about the Goldie B. Floberg Center and the resources it provides the community.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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