by BETH ALTENA
If you live in Rockford, it can be easy to take the charming and sparkling beauty of downtown for granted. If you don’t live in Rockford, pictures of our hometown in the form of a calendar with seasonal photographs capturing the real beauty here make a perfect gift this holiday season—for at least two reasons.
Jane Smitter, who has lived in Rockford since 1961, raised her children here and saw some of them move away after growing up. She has a granddaughter in California who, at age 16, has never been to Rockford. Smitter purchased seven of the calendars to give as gifts to her family far from home.
The calendar does more than bring to mind our town in seasonal themes. The sales from the unique product fund many of the projects Rockford’s Volunteer Police Service (VPS) operates.
An extension of the Rockford Police Department, volunteers don’t carry firearms and won’t pull you over if you are speeding. However, they enforce parking violations, patrol downtown and along the White Pine Trail, visit homebound residents, and check homes as a service to residents who are out of town.
This year, as in years past, the group has “adopted” a struggling family and will provide food and necessities and collect gifts for the family’s children.
A member of the Rockford VPS and local photographer, James Herdegen, volunteers his services for his policing duties, but has talent for taking great photographs and volunteers this service as well.
“I don’t use Photoshop,” said Herdegen of his pictures that show the bounty and bright colors of the Rockford Farm Market produce in summer, flowering trees in the early spring down by the dam, the pristine white streets of downtown after a morning snowfall midwinter, and more. His photographs show the passage of our town during the course of one year, but also his keen ability to see the beauty of an unexpected moment in time.
At just $12, the calendars are a good value in addition to funding good works. They can be purchased at the Rockford Police Department (7 S. Monroe St.), at the Welcome Center (outside Great Northern Trading Company’s front door), or at shops in downtown Rockford. Printing was limited to just a few hundred, so buy them quickly before Smitter gets them all!