Bennett’s socks drive ‘most successful’

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DANVILLE — For seven years, the late state Sen. Scott Bennett hosted a Warm Socks Drive in the Danville community during the winter.

The donations are given to Danville Rescue Mission, Fair Hope Children’s Ministry and Crosspoint at the Y Homeless Program.

Bennett died in early December, and many Danville residents and Danville Area Community College continued to support the drive. DACC was a major contributor in the most recent campaign, collecting multiple pairs of socks for all genders and ages.

“My goal is to do everything we can to fulfill Sen. Scott Bennett’s legacy,” newly appointed state Sen. Paul Faraci (D-Champaign) said.

He first met Scott and Scott’s wife, Stacy, 13 years ago at an event and dinner. They became best friends with the Bennetts.

“So, the loss of Scott has been tough,” Faraci said, getting emotional.

The socks drive was just one of the activities Bennett was involved with in Vermilion County.

“It was the most successful drive we’ve ever had,” said legislative assistant Betty Seidel, about the latest drive.

“Fulfilling that legacy is what we’re really after,” Faraci said.

The socks drive not only helps those stricken with poverty in the area, but it was also the community’s way of paying tribute to Bennett.

Faraci and Seidel delivered the socks on Friday that were collected through the socks drive Bennett started.

Bennett, in partnership with Robinson Chiropractic, had the annual sock drive to benefit shelters across Danville.

Through the end of December, community members were encouraged to donate new socks for men, women and children at the collection locations including Bennett’s District Office located at 201 N. Vermilion St., Suite 323 in Danville.

Faraci plans to continue the socks drive in Vermilion County. He said they want to maintain that effort, and maybe, if possible, build on that.

In visiting the people when delivering the socks, Faraci said seeing the joy on their faces and hearing them talk about their mission and the people they serve is what the program is all about. He said it’s a heart-warming feeling.

Another program Faraci wants to continue is the Valentine’s Day cards for veterans and persons in long-term care facilities.

Faraci visited several people and places in Danville on Friday. He talked with Vermilion County Board Chairman Larry Baughn, Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and others.

It was a whirlwind last week for Faraci after having been selected to succeed Scott Bennett. Bennett was re-elected to the Illinois Senate in November after not facing any opposition in the 52nd District serving Champaign and Vermilion counties.

Faraci, who lives in Champaign, was sworn in on Jan. 11.

Faraci has ties to Vermilion County through economic development, Danville Area Labor-Management Council meetings through his involvements and other previous jobs, he explained, such as through the treasurer’s office and unclaimed property/funds.

In 2004, Faraci worked with Todd Lee through the Illinois Department of Commerce. Faraci also has worked with Vermilion Advantage, knows Tim Dudley and others such as Rep. Mike Marron and worked with former state representatives Bill Black and Chad Hays.

“I think (Marron) and I will work very well together on behalf of Vermilion County. That’s my hope. That’s the plan,” Faraci said.

Faraci said he’s flattered and honored to come back and work with Vermilion County again and do some things that Bennett would be proud of.

Faraci said when he was selected to fill Bennett’s seat, he thought he had a chance, but didn’t think he was the front runner because there were a lot of great candidates.

Faraci has been Champaign Township assessor.

Faraci hasn’t taken any votes on issues yet, as Bennett’s wife Stacy finished Bennett’s term.

Understanding Scott’s focus and one of the things Faraci wants to continue is focusing on people with disabilities and their families, to find as many resources to help them.

Faraci also wants to focus on economic development and higher education.

“Those are the things I’m passionate about, and my hope is that they’ll allow me to work on those things,” he said.

Faraci is a Champaign Central High School and University of Illinois graduate. He managed Bromley Hall dorms at the U of I for a couple years out of college. His dad started The Great Impasta restaurant in downtown Champaign. His mom started the Jane Addams Book Shop, a used, out-of-print bookstore, also in the 1980s.

He worked for his dad for a couple years. Then he opened his own restaurants for about 10 years in downtown Champaign. After that he went to work for the Illinois Department of Commerce.

Small business is important to Faraci.

He also was a county board member, city councilman for five years, deputy mayor in Champaign and served most recently as Champaign Township Assessor for five years. He’s transitioning out of that position now.

“My family is really important to me,” he added, which includes a 16-year-old daughter. His wife, Stephanie, works at the University of Illinois in the College of Engineering Technolgy Entrepreneur Center.

He likes working on older cars, including a convertible he has.

Faraci will keep Bennett’s office on the third floor of the Vermilion County administration building. They try to have public hours every weekday.

His Vermilion County office can be reached at 217-442-5252.

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January 17, 2023 at 09:31AM

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