The Elves are Busy at Work, Getting Ready for Festival of Trees….

Hi! I am Sprinkles the Elf and I am one of the elves from the North Pole that wanted to lend a helping hand to Junior League of Champaign-Urbana to start the holiday season early. First, we want you to think about some of your favorite holiday traditions…decorated trees, music, family, friends, and gifts are some of our favorites. So, we have been very busy getting ready and setting up this year’s Festival of Trees! We also have some elves helping on the decorations for the “Snowflake Ball” Daddy Daughter Dance. Up here in the North Pole, we are ahead of schedule so we are sending Santa and Mrs. Claus down to spend time with you.   We are excited to show you all the amazing trees and wreaths, raffle prizes, silent auction items, and gift vendors!

To enjoy this wonderful celebration of Festival of Trees, we elves decided that spending time with family is a great way to start. Busey Bank has helped sponsor the “Snowflake Ball” Daddy Daughter Dance, and it is a perfect place for Dads and their daughters to get dressed up and create lasting memories. You can even pre-purchase your photo session with Illini Studio of Champaign to make sure you can have a token of these memories to look back on. Besides desserts, raffles, and dancing the night away, dads and daughters will have the first chance to see all the trees and auction items available at the Festival of Trees.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to be landing their sleigh at the Hilton Garden Inn on Saturday, November 22, from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM and again on Sunday, November 23 from 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM They would love to extend their visit, but the reindeer games begin on Monday and they need to be back up at the North Pole for the opening ceremonies. Santa and Mrs. Claus are excited to see each of you, so please make sure to stop by to give them your Christmas list.


We have spared no creative elf magic when it comes to decorating the Christmas trees. We have over 20 trees with fun themes for you to enjoy, including Baby’s 1st Christmas, Classic Christmas, Country Christmas, Frozen, Home for the Holidays, Illini Christmas, Little People Christmas, Northwood Christmas, Peace on Earth, Pretty in Pink, Restaurant Tree, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Silver Bells, Snow and Ice and Everything Nice, Sweetest Holiday, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Do not worry about your parents, as we elves have come up with some fun activities for them too. We have asked a few of our gift makers to be at the festival. This way parents can get an early start on their gift purchasing. The vendors this year are Anna’s Skinny Wraps, Cheer Elegance, Custom Flooring and Interiors, It Works!, Norwex, Origami Owl, Perfectly Posh, Thirty-One and Wyldewood Cellars.   Not only do we have vendors, but we also have gifts that your parents can bid on, like 3 gingerbread houses designed by local bakers and artists, a George Strait autographed guitar, St. Louis Ram tickets, and a wine tree, just for starters.

We wanted to make sure that you walk away seeing the magic of Christmas and help us elves spread more Christmas cheer. We look forward to seeing you this weekend at Hilton Garden Inn. If you want more information about Festival of Trees and the Daddy Daughter Dance please go to Junior League of Champaign-Urbana’s website


3 JLCU Members receive prestigious “40 Under 40” Award from Central Illinois Business Magazine

By Lanae Clarke

Since the inception of Central Illinois Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Awards, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has seen many of its members honored for their leadership, community service, and outstanding achievements throughout the community.  This year is no different.  In fact, Becca Guyette, a member since 2007, achieved the prestigious title of Woman of the Year.  Additionally, two others in the JLCU membership, Katie Madigan and Kelly O’Neill, were both acknowledged for their contributions.  Becca, Katie, and Kelly embody the tenets JLCU has been founded upon through their continued promotion of voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving their communities.

Previous to their service with JLCU, each of these women have performed duties both personally and professionally exemplifying their leadership skills above and beyond the call of duty thus proving their resilient strength of character.

Becca Guyette

As published in her bio, Becca Guyette’s mission, as the director of leadership giving at the United Way of Champaign County, is spreading the word about the good works of an organization she believes in and helping others find a way to support it.  “My joy is matching passion with resources — when people have resources to give and a passion, and finding a mission for them to support,” she said.  “I feel what we are doing in the community is life-changing stuff,” Guyette continued. “The United Way is not about charity, it’s about change. The change is what excites me.”

Early in life Becca was exposed to the joys of community service through her family’s devotion to their church and those in her small community in Paulding, Ohio.  She took these qualities to heart and melded them with her skills while in college at Bowling Green State University.  Through her work in student government involving the development side of fundraising, she realized her true calling was to enrich the community through community service.

Like many other women in JLCU, Becca only happened upon Champaign-Urbana in 2001 because of love.  She entered the University of Illinois to pursue her master’s degree in organizational communications while her now husband finished his law degree.  The rest is history as they say, and after successful positions with the University YMCA proving her finesse at hitting fundraising goals, she was actively recruited this past year by Sue Grey, the United Way of Champaign County’s President and CEO.   She had volunteered for the United Way as a program funding reviewer and on a committee, and she was familiar with the organization and passionate about its mission. “Becca is someone I had my eye on for a while,” Grey said. “She brought some fresh perspective to us, on analysis of our donors and where we needed to go.”

Like many in the JLCU membership, she balances her role as a mother, while also balancing her volunteer time with JLCU.  She and her husband have already begun talking with their older child about the importance of community service.”  I think it’s so important for people to have a sense of civic responsibility,” Guyette said.

Katie Madigan

Katie Madigan’s service in JLCU has spanned a number of years.  She has balanced successfully the tasks of raising her daughter, serving in numerous roles in JLCU, and also tending to the needs of those she teaches throughout the Unit 7 school district.  Recently she received the prestigious Elizabeth Alexander Award in May, so this award acknowledging her talents as one of the 40 Under 40  just follows in line with the spirit of her commitment to the community-at-large.

Fellow winner and nominator, Laura Bleill, CEO of, gives a succinct synopsis of Katie’s talents.  “Katie’s dedication to causes she believes in is exemplary. She is devoted to making the community a better place to live and to helping children.”  Katie not only tries to benefit the children throughout the community in her work as a speech-language pathologist, but she is also involved in many organizations which tie her professional skills to her community relationships: Board positions on JLCU, specifically Community Impact Council Director, Co-Vice President of the Thomas Paine PTA, CU Cradle to Career, Member of the Leadership Council and Kindergarten Readiness Goal Group, United Way Emerging Community Leaders, and religious education teacher at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Her ability to portray her commitment to the children in the community can best be summarized by her response when questioned about the rewards in her work with children professionally and personally. “Working with young children, especially those with disabilities, can be quite challenging but also holds so many rewards. I feel accomplished every time one of my students learns a new sound, a new word or a new communication technique.”

No matter what the task is at hand, Katie exceeds the goals and brings perfection to each individual she encounters, especially if it is a child in need.

Kelly O’Neill

Kelly joined JLCU unlike many in previous new member classes.  She took to heart the community service instilled in at University of Illinois during her undergraduate years through her sorority’s community service projects.  Because of this, she brought a new energized spirit to JLCU and has not stopped lighting up her professional and community projects since.

Recently she was promoted to Associate Director, Illinois MBA Student and Academic Services and Recruiting Programs.  Obviously this hasn’t dimmed her commitment because she has lit her path brightly the few years since she graduated from University of Illinois with her commitment in other endeavors.  Associations like CU One-to-One Mentoring; the United Way Emerging Community Leaders program; Beta Theta Pi advisory committee; Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Organization president and advisory committee chairperson have benefitted greatly with her time and efforts to improve community efforts and leadership.

Fellow JLCU member and nominator, Caitlin Drake, summarizes why Kelly is so successful in her endeavors, “Kelly’s dedication to bettering herself, women and the community at large is remarkable. She leads such an immensely full life but always makes time for service work and her friendships.”

Keeping in line with her mantra, she lives by the credo, “Dreams don’t work unless you do!”

Congratulations to each of these women as they continue to reach their goals and dreams while enriching the JLCU community!  They are truly leaders and deserve the credit they are due while showing each of us through hard work and leadership, everyone can truly make a difference.

JLCU Represented in the CU Schools Foundation Annual Adult Spelling Bee

by January Boten

On Saturday November 8, I was able to represent JLCU at the CU Schools Foundation Annual Adult Spelling Bee.  It was a blast.  Our team consisted of myself, Cleda Wang and Andrea Fain.  We were excited when we arrived to see all of the other teams in their fun costumes ready to compete.  We were in the second round of spellers so we were able to walk around and see how the bee would work.

While we were walking around and people would find out we were from JLCU they were so excited to see us.  Several teachers told us about how much of a benefit our Junior League locker is to them.  Another teacher told us about how she attends the Festival of Trees each year and one year won a Gingerbread House that she brought to her school for the kids to enjoy.

When it was finally our time to spell we were nervous!  However, we kept getting words that we could spell and before we knew it we had won our “Swarm” and were moving on to the finals.  The finals were exciting because we were announced with all of the other Swarm winners and had to spell our words up on the stage with everyone in the room watching.  We made it through the first few rounds, but were eventually eliminated with the word “innards.”

The spelling bee was an amazing experience and it was made even more fun by being able to represent our organization and hear how much we mean to the teachers in our community.