Best Of 2015 Pay It Forward

Best Of 2015 Pay It Forward / WICS

One year ago, Davis Financial Group and Newschannel 20 teamed up to pay it forward.

Each month in 2015, the title and the 500-dollar prize that goes with it were awarded to a person who is making a difference in our community.

Newschannel 20's Lindsey Hess gives us a look back at the people who were recognized.

Throughout central Illinois, good Samaritans are using their special talents to give back.

Each month in 2015 Newschannel 20 and Davis Financial Group recognized someone who gives without ever asking for anything in return.

Our year of paying it forward began in the kitchen of Jeff Threlfall and Rae Clementz, who cook a monthly meal for the domestic violence victims at sojourn shelter.

"It's one of the most caring things that you can do to connect with someone...Over food," said Rae Clementz, Sojourn Shelter volunteer.

In Rochester, Dan Strick works tirelessly in his garden every day, so those in need have fresh produce.

"People will be talking and they say this is really great. This is a wonderful thing. Then they'll say it's a lot of work, though. But for me, the word "though" doesn't apply," said Dan Strick, gardener.

Hard work doesn't scare these volunteers away.

Whether that means coaching young girls to run a 5K...

"I just try and be there and keep them going. Give them high five's and as much encouragement as I can. Anytime they need to talk. I'm there for them," said Debbie Boerger, Girls On The Run coach.

Or giving homeless moms-to-be a safe place to live.

"We're here 24/7 and we're here with the girls overseeing the home and assisting them in getting up on their feet," said Beerlahai Roi founder, Kim Fields.

We recognized those who give back to our nation's heroes.

"We normally mail 20 boxes per month to different soldiers and we mail five boxes to one individual knowing that they're going to share with their comrades," said Alice Beck, founder of Springfield Cares Soldier Mailing.

A hometown hero took us to Auburn where a young mom saved a man whose wheelchair was stuck on a train track.

"I tried to lift the wheelchair up and i couldn't. I looked up and the train was lined up with our house," said Ashley Aldridge who saved a man's life.

Volunteers who are instilling self-confidence....

"They work one-on-one with a mentor. The first bit of the session they do a work-task or a chore. We ask them to pitch in. And then in the last hour, they get to work directly with one of our horses," said Chris Daniels, founder of Refuge Ranch.

...or a love for reading.

"We are giving out 4,850 books this year," said Jane Byram who organizes an annual holiday book drive.

Across central Illinois, we found those with the biggest hearts for service and awarded them with a total of $6,000.

"Gee whiz! I never even dreamt anything like that would happen. Wow," said John Riedle, Greenview Amvets Post 179 volunteer.

"This is amazing. I had no idea. So thank you so very much," said Andrea Fuchs of Wells Fargo.

"Gee, I feel like such a celebrity," said Reba Crawford, Ronald McDonald House volunteer.

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