Top Box Foods

United Way of Rock River Valley partnered with Top Box Foods to increase access to healthy and affordable food in two local neighborhood food deserts. The Chicago-based nonprofit group will provide boxes of quality farm-fresh fruits and vegetable and delicious fresh-frozen meats at discounted prices over the next three months at two United Way Strong Neighborhoods Houses. This is Top Box Foods' first venture in Rockford-area, which operates locations throughout Cook County and Lake County, and is open to the entire public.

Access to quality food sources have diminished for residents living near the Strong Neighborhoods Houses at 908 8th Avenue and 1233 Revell Avenue due to the vacant Highlander store on Rural Street and recent fire devastation of El Olivo Grocery on Seventh Street. Top Box Foods specifically focuses its work in food deserts and closely works with suppliers to purchase foods at reasonable costs. Bundled in boxes, fresh fruits and vegetable and frozen meats, poultry, and fish are then available for purchase by residents at up to 40 percent less than retail. Food items include apples, berries, tomatoes, chicken breasts, shrimp and sirloin steaks. Cash, credit card and Link Card are accepted.

The Top Box Foods distribution center in Rockford is part of United Way's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, which dramatically improves the quality of life for children and families in two of the region's most challenged neighborhoods. Through neighborhood engagement discussions, United Way discovered how constraints related to limited income, time and distance make it difficult for residents to access healthier foods.


Dates and Locations

Saturday, August 19 (Sponsored by SwedishAmerican Health System)

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


Saturday, September 16

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.


Saturday, October 21

GPS Faith Community Church (10714 N. 2nd Street, Machesney Park, Ill.): 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


(Rockford, Ill. - 07/26/2017) – United Way of Rock River Valley is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Frank Ware Award of Excellence, awarded to individuals in our area who exemplify a high-level of excellence in service to others, human service advocacy, and an unwavering commitment to our community. This award honors the spirit of Frank Ware, beloved former President/CEO of Janet Wattles Center, who spent over 30 years advocating and fighting for quality care on behalf of the most marginalized members in this community. His high standards and expectations resulted in better care for those in need.

One award recipient will be determined by a committee of community leaders and announced during United Way's Campaign Kickoff breakfast event in September. Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29 and are available at


Previous recipients include:

Barbara Roman, Family Counseling Services Northern Illinois - 2016

Justice Kathryn Zenoff, 17th Judicial Circuit – 2015

Susan Razbadouski, LCSW, ACSW, Family Counseling Services – 2014

Megan Cox, Rosecrance – 2013

Sherry Fink, Rosecrance Ware Center – 2012

Julie Barthels, Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling – 2011


For more information on United Way's Frank Ware Award of Excellence, contact Linda Childers by calling 815-968-5400.


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley advances the common good in Winnebago and Ogle counties, creating opportunities for a better life by focusing on education, income, and health. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program

(Rockford, Ill. - 06/26/2017) - Winnebago County has been chosen to receive $193,059 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county. This amount reflects a 21% increase ($33,051) from Phase 33 which awarded $160,008.

A Local Board, consisting of representatives from local nonprofit human service agencies, governmental entities, and the community at large will determine how the funds are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in Winnebago County. The Local Board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program.

Under the terms of the grant from the National Board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must: 1) be private voluntary non-profits or units of government, 2) be eligible to receive Federal funds. 3) have an accounting system, 4) practice nondiscrimination, 5) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs, and 6) if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board. Qualifying service providers in Winnebago County are urged to apply. The spending period for Phase 34 ends January 31, 2018.

Public or private agencies interested in applying tor Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds may access an application from the United Way of Rock River Valley website at

Completed applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11. Only hard copies will be accepted. It is recommended that applications be hand delivered to avoid any mail delays to:

United Way of Rock River Valley
Attn: Paul Nolley
612 N Main Street, Suite 300
Rockford, IL 61103



Macy's Shop for a Cause

(Rockford, Ill. - 07/19/2017) – United Way of Rock River Valley has joined the Macy's Shop For A Cause Charity Challenge, a fundraising competition on CrowdRise, the largest crowdfunding platform for good. Participating charities across the country will compete for up to $300,000 in prize money. United Way joined the Challenge on CrowdRise in hopes of raising money to support building personal home libraries for young kids as part of its Success By 6 school readiness work.

Books in the home help children progress in school even if their parents are not educated and as little as 20 books in the home has a significant positive influence on academic achievement. Through United Way's school readiness work, young children and their families receive age-appropriate books to build their very own home libraries.

The Macy's Shop For A Cause Charity Challenge launched on CrowdRise on July 11th at 11am and runs through August 9th at 12:59:59pm. The charity that raises the most online during the Challenge wins $100,000; second place wins $50,000, third place wins $25,000, fourth place wins $15,000, and fifth place wins $10,000. Weekly Bonus Challenges enable charities to win up to another $100,000.

CrowdRise Challenges are innovative fundraising competitions for charitable organizations designed to build capacity, create massive engagement and leverage, and use the power of the crowd to provide new meaningful funding streams for organizations in every sector.

Since 2006, Macy's Shop For A Cause has partnered with accredited schools and nonprofits nationwide to raise tens of millions of dollars for their ongoing charitable efforts.

To help United Way win the Macy's Shop For A Cause Charity Challenge head to

CrowdRise is the world's largest crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to charitable fundraising. Used by millions of individuals, tens of thousands of charities, hundreds of companies and many of the most famous artists and athletes in the world, CrowdRise enables people to creatively leverage their resources and networks to unlock the power of the crowd to support positive social missions and create massive impact.

Founded by actor Edward Norton, film producer Shauna Robertson and Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe, CrowdRise has conceived, implemented and powered campaigns that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to date. For more information visit In January 2017, CrowdRise merged with GoFundMe to offer both people and organizations the best fundraising tools for any cause they care passionately about.

Strong Neighborhoods Days

(Rockford, Ill. - 06/07/2017) – The Rockford Police Department and United Way of Rock River Valley once again partner together to offer a summer series of Strong Neighborhoods Days block parties. The block parties, which provide informal opportunities for residents to meet and engage with district police officers and their neighbors, occur on Wednesdays from 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • June 7, 2017 – Revell Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Ave.)
  • June 14, 2017 – 8th Avenue Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Ave.)
  • June 21, 2017 – Irving Avenue Strong Neighborhoods House (312 Irving Ave.)
  • June 28, 2017 – Salter Avenue and Court Street
  • July 12, 2017 – Creekview Road & E. Lawn Drive
  • July 19, 2017 – Belden Park (2300 Belden Street)

"Strong Neighborhoods Days affords us the opportunity to build new and cultivate lasting relationships within our community," said Lieutenant Carla Redd.

Block party activities include giveaways, bomb robot demonstrations, and tours of the Rockford Police mobile command center and Strong Neighborhoods Houses. United Way will provide food, catered by Zina Horton from local favorite, Zammuto's, and will also distribute free t-shirts to attendees.

"Strong neighborhood programming is a great way for officers to positively interact with citizens in an informal and fun setting," said Lieutenant Joel Givens.
Police officers and United Way volunteers will go door-to-door throughout the neighborhood to make introductions, distribute event information and invite residents to attend leading up to each event.

This is the third year Rockford Police and United Way partnered together on the Strong Neighborhoods Days. For more information on Strong Neighborhoods Days, contact Grant Schubert, Neighborhood Impact Manager, at 815-986-4801 or Matthew Simpson, Neighborhood Impact Manager, at 815-986-4802.

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