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January 29, 2004


SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and Rep. Mike Boland (D- East Moline) joined with National President of the Elks Amos McCallum who made a contribution to each of the families of the Illinois soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  McCullum also encouraged Elk associations nationwide to support the creation of Military Family Relief Funds in their states.


“For a century, the Illinois Elks have been a beacon of community service,” Quinn said.  “They have unselfishly stood up for veterans and disadvantaged children, and we salute their commitment to our American soldiers and their families.”


Also joining Quinn was Bill Voigts, president of the Illinois Elks Association. Quinn participated in the state’s largest observance of Flag Day last June and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Illinois Elks Association at the Elks’ national headquarters in Chicago.


                Quinn also met with 14-year-old Morgan Luft, an eighth grade honor roll student from Franklin Middle School in Springfield.  Luft’s 20-year-old brother, Jim, is in the Army National Guard, 1644th Transportation, Springfield and attends Illinois State University.


"I am proud to be working with Lt. Gov. Quinn to promote the Military Family Relief Fund," said Voigts.  "As president of the Illinois Elks, I encourage all our members to donate money to the Fund on their state income tax forms through a special check-off box and promote the need for the Military Family Relief Fund."


            Quinn also saluted the Elks for their “Army of Hope” program to assist families of reservists and National Guard members with home repairs.  Quinn has included the Elks Army of Hope project on the Operation Home Front website, (www.OperationHomeFront.org) – which has already received more than 3,993,710 hits since it began last April.


            “Army of Hope volunteers are carpenters, electricians and tradesmen of every type who willingly donate their time to help citizen soldiers who are called to active duty,” Quinn said.


The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund – sponsored by Rep. Mike Boland and unanimously passed by the General Assembly - was signed into law in February, 2003, by Governor Rod Blagojevich.  It enables Illinois taxpayers to voluntarily donate to the Fund on their state income tax forms through a special check-off box.  The Fund assists the families of Illinois National Guard members and reservists called to active duty with rent, car payments and utility bills.  So far more than $785,000 has been distributed from the Fund to hundreds of Illinois military families.


“President Abraham Lincoln reminded us of our duty to ‘…care for them who have borne the battle.’ The people of Illinois want to help our soldiers and the Military Family Relief Fund is an excellent way for them to do so,” Quinn said.


Last Monday, Quinn joined California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to launch a drive to create a California Military Family Relief Fund modeled on Illinois’ successful program.  Also, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of South Carolina is pushing for legislation to create a South Carolina Military Family Relief Fund.


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