The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

September 11, 2013

Want a degree with that?

DACC president works at McDonald's to raise funds

The Commercial-News

---- — It’s not every day Danville Area Community College President Alice Marie Jacobs is seen working at a McDonald’s.

Tuesday, however, was one of those days.

Wearing a green DACC polo shirt, Jacobs greeted guests to the new Neighborhood McDonald’s, at the corner of Main Street and Bowman Avenue. The new eatery features DACC, Cannon Elementary School and the Veteran Affairs Illiana Health Care System.

“The Witzels have become a dependable partner for Danville Area Community College,” Jacobs said. “Their beautiful new Neighborhood McDonald’s promotes the college and our neighbors with its lovely décor, and the Witzel family has invested in the college’s new initiative in Hoopeston with both financial and promotional support. We wanted to demonstrate our appreciation of their efforts with more than mere words.”

As part of a grand opening celebration this week, McDonald’s sponsored McPresident’s Day during the lunch and dinner hours on Tuesday. Jacobs worked alongside college faculty and staff to show appreciation to Don and Deanna Witzel, who own the Vermilion County McDonald’s restaurants, for their support of the college as well as raise funds for the DACC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. A total of 25 DACC employees worked during the two shifts.

“We have people in the drive-up and people making fries,” Tracy Wahlfeldt, executive director of the DACC Foundation, said.

One of those in charge of frying the fries was Laura Williams, director of adult education at DACC. Williams manned the fryer while Emily Alexander, a DACC administrative assistant, bagged the fries.

“I have a much better appreciation of french fry fryers. You have to have the timing down just right,” Williams said.

“We were frying from the moment we got there until we left,” she said after the lunch shift.

During the McPresident’s Day serving hours, 20 percent of the total sales were donated to the DACC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. The fund provides one-time grants to students who are at risk of dropping out of their education due to desperate financial situations.

“Each semester we see more students with needs than we have funds available. It’s a huge need, so this opportunity from McDonald’s is truly a blessing and helps to make a student’s dream reality,” Wahlfeldt said.

Deanna Witzel, owner of the Vermilion County McDonald’s restaurants, said, “We have done this for years for nonprofits to help them raise funds.”

Witzel said principals and other school officials usually aren’t found behind the counter preparing the food.

“The principals usually are free to socialize because the students want to talk to them,” she explained.

One exception, though, was made several years ago for current Danville District 118 Superintendent Mark Denman.

“When Mr. Denman was principal, the kids wanted him to wait on them and he obliged,” Witzel said.

Jacobs said her job at lunchtime Tuesday was being “a door greeter and circulating among the guests.” She said she didn’t mind “roving” among the diners.

“Anything that helps DACC is fun for me,” she said.

To drum up a little extra business, Jacobs told her students in her Success in College class that they would have an opportunity to earn 10 extra credit points if they attended a DACC event — including the McDonald’s activity on Tuesday.

Students can elect to write about the event,” she said. “But more than that, the course helps them to know more about the events at the college and to become successful. It helps students understand what they may encounter while they are in college, such as financial concerns, studying, time management, setting goals and acquainting themselves with all the services DACC has to offer.”

On Thursday, Cannon Elementary School Principal Kimberly Pabst and some of her teachers will try their hand at working at the Neighborhood McDonald’s between 5-7 p.m. to raise money for their school. All Cannon students who attend the event will receive one free homework pass.

“We’re also giving away a couple of bikes to the Cannon kids,” Witzel said.

The events planned for the rest of the week at the Neighborhood McDonald’s are:

Wednesday, Patriots’ Day: All first-responders will receive a free value meal of their choice. A special meal for a discounted price also will be available for all customers.

Friday, McPack the Place: Free tickets to Danville High School’s football game that night will be available at all three Danville McDonald’s locations. Between the third and fourth quarter of the game, a competition will be held and whoever kicks a football over the goal line will receive coupons for 50 free Big Macs.

Saturday, Ronald McDonald magic show: The show starts at 5 p.m. and special priced Happy Meals will be available.