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Locals Looking for Businesses to Give Back to Veterans

Herschel Luckinbill and Rick Jacobsen have teamed up on a new initiative to pair businesses up with veterans. Montgomery's Clarence Bark is the first recipient - Jacobsen Lawn Service will take care of his lawn this year for free.

Two local men known for their charitable works are teaming up on a new initiative to help veterans.

Herschel Luckinbill of Montgomery calls it “Adopt-a-Vet,” and the premise is simple: get local businesses to offer their services to one veteran for free. Luckinbill, a tireless volunteer for Honor Flight Chicago and organizer of the regular veterans’ breakfasts at in Montgomery, is hoping to get more businesses involved.

At the moment, he has one: of Oswego. And in fact, it was owner Rick Jacobsen who helped come up with the idea. Jacobsen has been in business for two years, and has made it a point to give back, sponsoring charitable events for the Special Olympics and the Kendall County Food Pantry, and helping Pat Gavros with her  in downtown Oswego.

Jacobsen said he has known Luckinbill his entire life, and when he called looking for a way to help local veterans, the two came up with an idea. For the upcoming season, Jacobsen Lawn Service will mow and maintain the lawn of Montgomery’s , an 88-year-old World War II veteran.

Bark served in the Navy from July 1941 to September 1946, logging time aboard two aircraft carriers: the USS Bennington and the USS Lexington. He was in the Pacific for five years. After the war, Bark has had a long career of public service: last year, he retired from the village’s plan commission after 32 years.

Jacobsen said when Luckinbill brought him over to Bark’s house to tell him about the gift, Bark’s wife Jeanette broke into tears.

“It was powerful,” Jacobsen said. “That feeling right there, that’s why I do what I do.”

Jacobsen said he plans to put Bark’s military information – name, rank, years of service – on Jacobsen Lawn Service t-shirts, and sell them, giving the profits either to Bark or to Honor Flight Chicago, a non-profit that brings veterans on free flights to Washington, D.C. to see the war memorials.

And he said he’s in it for the long haul – if he doesn’t mow Bark’s lawn next year, he’ll mow another veteran’s. It’s not just a one-year deal, he said, but a commitment.

“If I can’t give 25 minutes a week to someone who has fought for our country, I shouldn’t be in business,” he said.

Luckinbill and Jacobsen are hoping this sparks other local business owners to do the same. Luckinbill knows the area’s veterans, and said he would be willing to hook them up with willing businesses with services to offer. If you’re interested in donating, call Luckinbill at 630-801-9591.

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