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Central Illinois Foodbank receives $500,000 donation

He learned of the Central Illinois Foodbank through his friendship with retired ... Today, it has interests in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors. The group’s hospitality division includes the President Abraham ...

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John Reynolds Staff Writer @JohnReynoldsSJR The global company that owns the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in downtown Springfield is donating $500,000 to the Central Illinois Foodbank to feed hungry children.Khalaf Al Habtoor, founding chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, LLC of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was at the group’s Springfield hotel Friday to announce the donation with other officialsHe learned of the Central Illinois Foodbank through his friendship with retired U.SCongressman Paul Findley, and said people have an obligation to help the less fortunate.“When God gives you something, you have to give part of that to people in need, without differentiation in any religion, color or cultureYou have to help everyone in the world,” Al Habtoor said“… The three religions in the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are saying to help, to love, to love people, to love each other and we have to do thatWe should not be selfish.”The “DrKhalaf Al Habtoor and Congressman Paul Findley’s Children Fund” will be used to establish an endowment to fund programs that provide food to children in need throughout the Foodbank’s 21-county service region.Pam Molitoris, executive director of the Central Illinois Foodbank, said they will receive $100,000 annually over the next five yearsThe foodbank will then use earnings from the endowment to help hungry children.Molitoris said they work through youth groups and some school districts to get the food to the children, some as young as 3 years old.“After about one year of earnings, we expect to serve about 750 children with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, eggs, protein and milkOur hope is that by year five, we will be closer to 4,000 children,” Molitoris said.Paul Findley, 96, was not at Friday’s event, but several of his family members did attend, including his son, Craig Findley.Craig Findley said his father’s interests in feeding the hungry goes back to his childhood and growing up in the Great Depression.“When he was a boy, his mother was the manager of the Jacksonville High School cafeteria,” Craig Findley said“… Dad helped at times as the cashier of the cafeteriaAnd his mother’s instruction to him was, every child in that cafeteria gets a meal todayIf they have a nickel in their pocket or if they don’t have a cent, everyone will be fed.”Craig Findley said his own son remembered this story when Al Habtoor called and asked what he could do for Paul Findley.Molitoris said she was grateful to the Findley family and Al Habtoor.“It’s very humbling that someone from thousands of miles way, from Dubai, would even know about the Central Illinois Foodbank, much less consider us to give such a wonderful gift,” Molitoris said.The website for the Al Habtoor Group states that it started out as a small engineering firm in 1970Today, it has interests in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors.The group’s hospitality division includes the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield — a Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 701 EAdams StThe group also has hotels in the United Arab Emirates, Vienna, Austria, London and Budapest, Hungary.Al Habtoor has also funded a variety of projects at Illinois College in Jacksonville through his relationship with Findley.In 2007, Al Habtoor donated $1.3 million for creation of the Khalaf al Habtoor Leadership Center, a renovation of Whipple Hall and endowment funds to support programs of the center.Contact John Reynolds:, 788-1524,  Never miss a story Choose the plan that's right for you. Digital access or digital and print delivery. Subscribe Now Sign up for daily e-mails Sign up Site ServicesMy ProfileContact UsSubscribeCommenting RulesArchivesMarketplaceCarsHomesClassifiedsNewspaper AdsGarage Sale DirectoryPlace an AdAdvertise With UsPay Your Ad BillSectionsNewsState GovernmentSportsThe VoiceLocal EntertainmentInformationSocial Media DirectoryE-editionToday's Front PageText AlertsCalendar

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