Sullivan, IL

"A small town with big philanthropy"

Local resident, Geoffrey Auden handcrafts beautiful wooden American flags and donates the money to charity. (Credit: Ellen Ferrera)

Sullivan is a small farming community of less than 5,000 people who have a long history of giving and caring for each other.  During the Depression of 1929, the impoverished citizens raised $125,000 to bring a shoe factory to town. Fifty years later, more than 1,000 citizens raised $700,000 for a medical clinic. 

For a small town there has been great philanthropy, a farmer donated land for our Wyman Park, the Titus family built the library, the Tabor family built the exercise park and Guy Little gave us our famous Little Theater on the Square and the Masons built a magnificent retirement home, which today serves 360 residents. But generosity lives on in so many personal ways.

The people really make Sullivan unique. When a paramedic goes to visit family in Arizona he takes his 83-year- old neighbor so she can visit her family and makes sure there’s a wheelchair for her at every airport. 

Everything salvaged from homes is donated to Habitat for Humanity, people generously donate to the Thrift Boutique store where all the proceeds go to the Senior Center. The Senior Sewing Club hand sews naptime quilts for every kindergarten child in the county. Ninety-nine-year-old, Genny Sutton, just received the prestigious Governor’s Volunteer Service award to honor her 40 years in service to the community.  

And no one goes hungry. The Brown Bag Club provides lunches for needy students. The Senior Center provides free coffee, doughnuts and free breakfasts and a free lunch once a month. The American Legion provides a free lunch for everyone who marches in the Independence Day parade and there is always a potluck dinner at one of the 12 churches in town.

At 99 years old, Genny Sutton receives the Governor’s Volunteer Service award for her endless service and philanthropy to the community. (Credit: Ellen Ferrera)

This is a small town where, if you miss church on Sunday, you will receive a get well card. If you dial the wrong number, you talk for 15 minutes anyway. If you drive your car into a ditch outside town, the news gets back before you do.

Geoffrey Auden salvages wood and makes beautiful wooden American flags which he donates for charity raffles and there are still hitching rails in town for the local Amish who come to shop in horse-drawn buggies.

The people here are of modest means, but they always dig deeper for someone who has less.