Moline’s ‘Mr. Thanksgiving’ named local hero

Many people already consider Deacon Robert Vogelbaugh of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline to be a hero for his work to provide meals to more than 2,000 people every Thanksgiving. Maxwell House Coffee and American Profile Magazine made it official, however, by naming him the grand prize winner in their “Local Heroes” Contest.

The recognition brought him a $500 gift certificate and another $500 gift certificate for the charity of his choice, Skills Inc. The Moline agency provides vocational rehabilitation and training for adults with special needs in Illinois and Iowa.

Known as “Mr. Thanksgiving,” Deacon Vogelbaugh has been serving free meals at the SouthPark Mall Food Court on Thanksgiving for 37 years and is gearing up for his 38th dinner next week. In 2007, he provided 2,500 meals for people who would have spent the day alone or gone hungry.

The national prize is the logical next step for the man who has already received one of the highest honors the Diocese of Peoria can bestow: the Pere Marquette Award. Given to men and women throughout central Illinois for extraordinary service to their faith communities, he was recognized in 2006.

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