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Southern Illinois Made Expo Announces New Charity

Photo: Marion Chamber of Commerce

MARION – As preparations continue to gear up for the fourth annual Southern Illinois Made Products Expo, Senator Dale Fowler is joining together with the Southern Illinois Chambers of Commerce and the Southern Illinois Honor Flight to make an exciting announcement about this year’s Expo charity.

“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 has 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 Southern Illinois Honor Flight has been the named charity of the Southern Illinois Made Expo. However, with the blessing of the Honor Flight organization, Senator Fowler is bringing on a new charity for this year’s event, Operation Honor Guard.

“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 Southern Illinois Honor Flight program. “We recognize that the pandemic has been devastating for so many businesses and organizations. Which 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.”

Photo: veteranshonorflight.org

Operation Honor Guard seeks to raise money for veteran service organization 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 returning later this year on October 9 and 10. Registration for the even 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.