A sizeable crowd gathered Saturday evening in downtown Effingham for a block party to support Operation Blackhawk. The organization was founded in 2007 by local businessmen Paul Guttman, Boris Bonutti and Bob Lakin, along with veterans Bob Ferguson and Dennis Brown, to provide assistance to area military families left behind when the local U.S. Army National Guard were deployed overseas.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.