By Tyler Roebuck
CHURUBUSCO — “I feel like I saved a busload of babies or something. I just can’t believe that there’s not anybody out there more deserving,” Jim Millikan said.
Millikan was recognized as the Churubsuco Chamber of Commerce as “Citizen of the Year.”
“He’s been silently collecting for years helping out our youth and those less fortunate in the area,” said Ceil Parker who nominated Millikan.
Millikan began the Toys for Tots in Churubusco five years ago, and is responsible for growing it – and the community around it – ever since. This small-town Santa began the effort from some leftover money at the end of the business year in 2012.
“When it started, I have a construction company, Saint James Construction, we took $400 out of the savings account and bought toys one year,” he said. “The next year, I called up my vendors, drywall guys, plumbers and heating guys and said, ‘hey, do you all want to go together and pool our money and buy Toys for Tots?’”
His invitation was well-received, and the program boomed.
“The first year, we had like $1500, and it snowballed from there. This year we had over $4,000 donated and we filled up 22 shopping carts,” he said.
Millikan has been a fixture in ’Busco for most of his life after moving into town at the age of 1. With the success of his company, he felt the need to give back to the community that has become home.
“It’s something I can do that’s not huge – to me it’s not huge. And then I love to shop, especially for toys. It’s a blast,” he said.
But as for the award, Millikan feels overwhelmed.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything over and above to deserve it, but it’s an honor.”
Also at the Chamber Banquet, K&K’s Videos and Books was recognized as business of the year.
“One of the things that we love about this community is how much people get involved and that they are truly there to help one another out and care about each other,” Chamber President Miles Wilson said while announcing K&K. “This year, the business that exemplified that the most is the first there if you need donations for a cause. Usually, they come to you asking, ‘How can we donate?’”
The chamber recognized Larry Hall for his work as a photographer for the town and Jones Greenhouse for their long work maintaining the flowers downtown.