A Mattoon food center had a broken furnace. This Neoga business covered the costs. | Local

MATTOON — When the Mattoon Community Food Center heating system needed maintenance, volunteer Dennis Booker called Varner & Rawlings Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. to come check the group’s main office as well as a new building across the street. 

After a crack was found on the combustion chamber in the furnace inside the new building, Booker said, the center was expecting to pay out of pocket for the repairs until the owner of Varner & Rawlings, David Varner, asked if they took donations. 

“He came in and made the whole system look better and more up to date,” Booker said. “It just makes the office area in there more livable and now with the shape that it’s in, there’s various ways that we can use it.”


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The community food center received a donation from Varner & Rawlings in the form of repairs and a free furnace, which saved them from having to spend money to replace it and to continue providing food and supplies to residents in need. 

Varner, who has the Neoga business for 30 years, said he feels blessed to have his company in business all these years and fortunate that the last couple were not as hard on them as it may have been for other businesses. 

“Community outreach programs are needed now more than ever and we appreciate the volunteer who continue to take care of the people in our area,” Varner said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to show our support for this organization and give back to the community who always been there for us.”

Mary Russell, executive director of the community food center, said Varner replaced the furnace inside their new building across the street from their 600 Moultrie Ave. address and will also install an air conditioning unit in the Spring.

The building itself was purchased by the organization about a year and half ago and since then has been used to house food and supplies for the center’s daily operations and other programs, Russell said. 



The Mattoon Community Food Center’s new building that was purchased a year and half ago and houses food and supplies for the center’s daily operations and other programs. 



“This is going to make it more comfortable in the space and it helps with preserving our food and supplies,” Russell said. “The donations will also allows us to buy more food and to provide for our clients and the drive-thru pick ups that we’re going to continue throughout this year.” 

During December, the center served around 600 families with 115 receiving home deliveries, 181 coming in for their daily pick-ups and 303 that drive up during the center’s Thursday pick-ups which happen once a month and are open to anyone, Russell said. 

Saving them a total of $5,500, the donation will help continue the monthly food pickups as well as their monthly backpack program that provides 128 Mattoon Middle School students with at least two days worth of food and snacks, he said.  

As for the new building, Russell said the plan will be to have the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Mattoon program or another local organization rent the office space at discount.


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“We aren’t sure how many clients we’re going to be seeing because there’s people that I haven’t seen for two years that are starting to come back in, so I would think our number would start increasing,” Russell said. “We’re just gonna make sure we have enough to do what we do.”

Watch now: Highlights, interviews and photos from Charleston’s win against Mattoon

Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys

TOP PHOTO: Mattoon’s Blaine Powers goes up for a shot against Charleston’s Jackson Becker (14) and Grady Smitley (3) during the teams’ game on Friday. Charleston came from behind and defeated Mattoon for the second time this season, winning 53-46 to improve to 11-6, 5-1 in the Apollo Conference. The Trojans were led by Jaksen Braun with 14 points and Caleb Oakley with 10. Mattoon (7-8, 2-2) was led by Cooper Bergstrom with 17 points. The Green Wave managed just four points in the fourth quarter — all by Christian Larson, who had 12 points. 

BOTTOM PHOTO: Mattoon’s Jaylen Middleton looks for passing room against Charleston’s Jackson Burgess on Friday. For more photos and videos from the game, go to jg-tc.com/sports. 



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Watch now: Charleston’s Jaksen Braun talks about his team’s win

Watch now: Charleston coach Cody Drone discusses his team’s win

Watch now: Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere discusses his team’s loss to Charleston

Watch now: Charleston runs the offense to perfection

Watch now: Charleston makes the stop at the buzzer

Watch now: Mattoon gets the defensive stop

Charleston Mattoon

Charleston Mattoon



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys



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Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

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Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys



Charleston at Mattoon boys

Charleston at Mattoon boys