STAR Charities is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 2003 by Progressive Components, a company based in Wauconda that develops and distributes mold components for the production tooling industry worldwide. The STAR acronym stands for “Sharing Time and Resources”, and the organization actively does just that, sponsoring and co-sponsoring a range of special events each year to raise money for worthwhile local organizations and charitable causes in need of support. In recent years STAR has averaged approximately $70K in annual donations to worthy organizations.
The charity started as a group of like-minded individuals who all wanted to give back to the community. It is a non-profit, and is completely volunteer-run. As the organization is sponsored by Progressive Components, many of the volunteers are company employees and their family and friends.
Don Starkey, co-founder of STAR, shared additional background regarding how they think globally and act locally: “We have always felt a responsibility to be a good citizen in the locales where we reside— by “giving back” through STAR and also through more diverse and personal ways by providing all employees a couple days per year they can volunteer to serve their community in the way they choose. This goes beyond the Wauconda area; we have employees across the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, and Singapore doing the same.”
Rather than support a single organization or cause, STAR works with several organizations in the area each year. They help provide the “muscle” by organizing events and raising funds in support of other charities, as Erick Robbins, STAR Charities Director, explained. Area organizations are welcome to request their assistance, and STAR regularly reviews those requests. Often, charities are referred by members of STAR’s volunteer team. STAR likes to stay local and largely focuses on Lake County, but recently has supported organizations such as Pioneer Center in neighboring McHenry County, which received an $11K donation this year from STAR’s annual golf outing.
Among other annual fundraisers put on by STAR, two of the largest are the Wauconda Turkey Trot (held each Thanksgiving morning) and Wauconda Bunny Hop (held the Saturday before Easter). Each features a four-mile, professionally-timed run around Bangs Lake in Wauconda paired with a two-mile fun-run/walk, with trophies for top finishers in all age groups. Last year’s Turkey Trot included 930 participants and nearly a hundred volunteers, with proceeds supporting the Wauconda/Island Lake Food Pantry. Registration for this year’s event will be available on Raceroster.com.
Additional annual events include the Tee Up 4 Charity golf outing (including 18 holes, lunch and dinner, and a sponsored auction), Shamrock the Block (a St. Patrick’s day fundraiser which this year benefited the Bangs Lake Advisory Group and Main Street Attraction), and a winter dinner featuring a trivia competition and silent auction. Organizations recently supported by STAR include the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Veterans R&R, Partners for Progress, and local school FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) groups.
According to Robbins, STAR helps out charities in the area that could use a leg up, and brings a philanthropic spirit to the Wauconda community.
“It really makes it come full circle when you get to see what those organizations end up doing with the funds that we donate to them,” Robbins said.