July 14, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Community comes together to ‘Back the Blackers’


John and Lori Blacker were a part of the St Joseph community for more than 20 years.

Now the community is stepping up to help them after John was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and two large brain tumors.


“They worked in the community, they donated their time where needed,” said family friend Joie Ciota-Sarver.

Lori ran a daycare, drove a bus and worked in the schools while John worked at Quality Plumbing and helped numerous families in SJO and the surrounding communities.

Ciota-Sarver and Melissa Hall met to discuss how they could help their friends and came up with the idea of a donation driven garage sale.

“Everyone loves a good garage sale,” said Joie Ciota-Sarver.

The garage sale is going on today until 4 p.m. at the American Legion Building on Lincoln. Items include household items, toys, clothes, books, bedding. There is also a bake sale and wristbands and window clings for sale. All funds raised go directly to our Blacker family for financial support.

Hall said the response from the community has been completely overwhelming.

“We have had a large number of people reach out to help the Blacker family,” she said. “They have contacted us with stories of how this family has impacted their lives and they want to give back. It is also humbling to us to see so many people reach out especially when they are working through their own loss and tragedy.”

On April 23, a benefit dinner will be held at the Sidney Saloon and there will be good, games, a silent auction, face painting and possibly live music. Any donations collected at the benefit will go to the Blackers.

Hall said small businesses have also reached out to help the family.
Mean Mugs in Ogden, volunteered their space for a karaoke night in February and the DJ, Blu Kollar, donated all his tips and pay to the benefit. Sidney Salon offered their space, time and help to organize and host the April benefit. Southern Charm Day Spa has donated gift card for their services and Allens Meats also donated gift cards to add to weekly raffle baskets. Other small businesses have donated their specialties to go towards the silent auction such as homemade soap, Sheila’s creations LLC and Hambleton Sweets and Treats have donated a basket for the raffle and the local 4H club is offered their time to help organize the donation sale.

“We have had an amazing response from the small business in the community,” Hall said.

There is also a GoFundMe set up for the family and a savings account at Gifford State Bank where donations can be deposited in.

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