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Financial aid pours in after plea for assistance

CHAMPAIGN – It's been an early Christmas at Empty Tomb for the past week and a half.

Staff members at the nonprofit charity have been busy counting the cash in each day's mail since appeals for help went out over Thanksgiving weekend.


Pothole patrol stops only for snow

CHAMPAIGN – A little over a week ago, on Nov. 28, the temperature hit a balmy 59 degrees.

This morning, the temperature was 8 degrees.


Cities making strides but still not satisfied with diversity

When Anthony Cobb joined the Urbana Police Department 14 years ago, he was one of only two blacks in the city's police department.

Cobb, now 35 and a sergeant, said he would sometimes feel a bit isolated on the job.


Route all lit up for holiday

CHAMPAIGN – Jon Schwanke of Mattoon loves Christmas, cold weather and showing off his truck. So being part of the Parade of Lights is a natural for him.

Schwanke's Ford Excursion was one of five really big trucks that were part of the entry for the 4xFools Offroad Club. The club members were armed with 3,000 candy canes to toss to spectators.


Gift certificates help hurricane victims rebuild homes

CHAMPAIGN – With her family of six uprooted from their homes by the fury of Hurricane Katrina, Serena Allen finds joy in the small things. Like her washer and dryer.

She bought the used set last week for just $25, thanks to a gift certificate from Homeworks, Habitat for Humanity's home-improvement resale store in Champaign. It's a big improvement over the constant trips to the laundromat to keep her children outfitted in this unfamiliarly cold weather.


Mapson remembered for generosity

CHAMPAIGN – Isaac "Ike" Mapson got into the bar business because he loved music. Along the way, he came to own a strip club and a trucking business, but he also had a generous side.

Mr. Mapson, who died Monday at 59 after a long bout with cancer, will probably be remembered for the strip club, Malibu Bay, said Andy Davis, his friend of 35 years.


Charity begins with research

Been asked to donate money to a charity recently?

If not, chances are someone will ask you soon.

From the bell ringers at shopping centers to the kids who come knocking on your door, fundraisers are out in full force.


After turkey, hunt for tree begins

WHITE HEATH – It's not just about choosing a tree. It's about tradition.

Short needles or long? Pre-cut or do-it-yourself? The answers are rooted deep in a family's holiday values.


'We're still proud'

CHAMPAIGN – The wind chill was 16 degrees, their team trailed by four touchdowns and the game clock was ticking near 0:00.

But you couldn't have pried the Unity Rockets football fans out of their frigid Memorial Stadium seats with a blow torch on Friday. They weren't going anywhere, regardless of the score of the IHSA Class 3A state championship game between the Rockets and Bureau Valley.


Charity says its budget is nearly empty of funds

CHAMPAIGN – This is the time of year donations to the Empty Tomb usually increase, and the organization needs the money more than ever.

Six employees are waiting for paychecks they should have received last week.