Dear Editor:

The holidays are coming up and I would like to start a Community Challenge. My challenge to you, residents of Savanna, Mount Carroll, Carroll County, anywhere really, is to pick one thing you are passionate about — whether it is animals, kids, our school, our environment, helping the elderly, helping our businesses — whatever it may be, pick one thing that you truly care about and do something about it. Reach out and find a way to make a difference in your community.

To start the challenge, I am organizing a free “Kids Hot Cocoa Bar” at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Savanna Marketplace in Savanna. The goal is to give our families something fun to do in our own community but also to bring awareness to some of our businesses and amazing programs that we do have in the area already.

My daughter Ella and I are co-hosting this event along with the Savanna Marketplace, The Answer Fitness & Physical Therapy, The Savanna Museum & Cultural Center and several kind-hearted volunteers.

When I had my child, I started getting involved in Right Steps, program for young families in our area with babies to Pre-K. After that I helped at the pre-school so much people thought I worked there. We try to attend the Savanna library as often as we can for 10:30 a.m. Saturday Storytime which is free for all ages.

We attend local events such as Shadfly Days, the Savanna Lions Club Family Day, and our community parades/celebrations. I have organized a few Kids Talent and Kids Movie nights. Also, I have been able to bring dance classes to our area as we offer them downtown Savanna now at The Answer.

I try to reach out to as many people as I can with as much fun and free entertainment as I can because I care about my child and those in our community. I have decided to put my energy and free time into the youth in our community because that is what I am truly passionate about so not only am I able to help our families, but I truly love and enjoy doing it.

Our area has a ton of resources available we just need to work together so that our families can take advantage and keep them going. Without money, time, support and great volunteers these resources cannot continue to grow.

I have lived here for 25 years and since then I have seen a lot of changes. Some good and some bad. A big change that I have noticed was our population. So, I did a little research on Google and came up with some statistics for our town. This is another reason I want to encourage you to do something to help out community, without the help of our residents our population will continue to decline. We need to work together to make our community a better place for all.

When you Google Savanna, Ill. population these are the statistics you get. Savanna’s population went down roughly 36% in the last 29 years: Savanna, IL 61074; Population of 3,865 (1990); Population of 2,847 (2017).

Savanna’s estimated population is 2,798, according to the most recent United States census estimates. These statistics are the same for many small towns and communities all over the U.S. and for a variety of reasons.

But if you look around there are communities that are thriving. You can Google or take a drive and see the new beautiful schools. You can search on Facebook for the fun and entertaining events available nearby for kids, families, and adults.

New parks are being built and businesses are thriving. Those towns and communities that are growing, clean, beautiful, fun and welcoming did not however come easy. It takes time, money, pride, passion, dedication, support, loyalty, integrity, honesty, bravery, and most of all LOVE!

If you take a drive around Savanna you have two ways of seeing it. You can take a look around and see the bars, messy lawns and closed businesses or……. OR you can take a long drive around Savanna and you can try being a little more positive. Be a little more openminded and try to be grateful.

Because when you do drive through our beautiful town you will see we have over 10+ churches that offer not only church services but also help and resources to our community. We do currently have two schools for our kids and we want to keep them here as they bring great value to our community.

We offer a barbershop, salons, floral shops, our own radio station, our own local newspaper, not every town has its own movie theater and especially at that great price, we have several grocery stores and are lucky not to have to travel for our simple needs.

We offer many unique shops and businesses owned by people who pour their heart and soul into doing what they love, we have restaurants open for every meal, we have nice bars with great entertainment, and we have several parks and not to mention the beautiful state park that people come from all over the world to see.

In order for Savanna to be successful we are going to need the community to work together and all chip in to make it the amazing place we all know it can be. So again, I would like to challenge you to make a difference in your community. You will be happy you did.

Erika Tubbs