Jim Schrepfer accepts the Don Munson Spirit of McLean County Award at the Red Cross of the Heartland's Saluting Our Hero's breakfast Thursday, Nov. 8. (Beth Whisman/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - This year's Red Cross of the Heartland Don Munson Spirit of McLean County award winner is Jim Schrepfer, a retired firefighter and Operation Santa volunteer.
Schrepfer is a retired Normal firefighter who volunteers for both Operation Santa and the Midwest Food Bank.
Operation President Sharon McCauley said in her nomination form that Schrepfer is called "Superman" for everything he does including driving to and from Peoria to pick up boxes of playing cards, playing Santa for town of Normal employees, and raising $10,000 to help the operation ship Christmas stockings to troops.
Schrepfer said he loves what he does now that he's retired.
"It's really amazing when I see the women and the military supporters out there who hand-make these stockings and have an organization to donate toothpaste and lipgloss and candy," Schrepfer said.
McCauley said Schrepfer contacted firefighter unions across the state to raise nearly $10,000 over the past two years to help Operation Santa pay for shipping 40,000 Christmas stockings to deployed troops.
"Every year we ship 20,000 stockings to the troops because we seem to forget that there's a war going on," Schrepfer said. "So, we need to remember the men and women that are serving and it's just a small way that on Christmas they'll get a stocking from us full of goodies."
McCauley said Schrepfer also enlisted his wife, Gina to sew stockings and she didn't stop until she made 1,000 stockings.
The award is given out annual at the Red Cross of the Heatland Saluting Our Heroes breakfast. Other honorees this year include: Brandon Sparrow who was posthumously awarded the Armed Forces award; Anna Henson who got the Health and Safety award; Eliazar Mendiola who won the Good Samaritan award; John Malkin and Andrew Jansen who were presented the Ambassador award; Tobey and Peyton Rigsby who took the Youth award; Bill Wright who was posthumously given the volunteer award and Derrick Schonauer who got the public service award.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.