Combating poverty in Perry County - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Combating poverty in Perry County

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PERRY CO. -- Most kids are usually excited this time of year anticipating the gifts they'll find under the Christmas tree, but one in four kids in Illinois lives in poverty.

Hundreds of toys were auctioned off to help give kids in need a better Christmas.

"Kids are our future. I've been here all my life and I think the more you can do, then you should," said Beth Lipe, sponsor of the event.

Growing up in Perry County and a parent herself,  Lipe knew she needed to give back this season.

"If I can even help 50 kids in the county, that just makes me feel like I'm trying to make a difference," she said. 

 Like any other county in southern Illinois, poverty is daily battle in Perry County.

Ed Balis was the auctioneer in charge and said it's a battle that's hard to fight.

"If the parents don't have the funds to get them a really good Christmas, this can help," Balis said.

The Illinois Poverty Report shows that 19% of the county's 22,000 people live beneath the poverty line. 

It also shows that nearly a quarter of the county's children are under the poverty line.

"And it's growing more and more every day," Balis said.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education almost half of the children in Perry County's public schools qualify for free or reduced lunch. Recent data shows that number continues to grow.

Ed travels across the state putting on these auctions and said it's the same story every where he goes, but knows this is helping.

"They say pay it forward and we're helping pay it forward," he said.

Because sometimes, it's the little things that count.

"They can wake up Christmas morning and have something to look forward to and have a smile on their face," said Lipe

Buyers had the opportunity to buy toys to either take home to gift or donate back to charity. Many, for example, bought two in order to donate one and keep the other.

Donated toys will be distributed to charitable organizations across Perry County in including the Du Quoin Jaycees, the Pinckneyville Optimist Club, and local churches. Those groups have been provided lists from schools of children who are in need this holiday season.

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