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We Hear You America Winners

Congratulations to these communities: Their townspeople cast the most votes, winning our prizing and promotional support necessary to fund local, civic initiatives. Meet the people and passion behind the cheers.

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1. Lake City, IA

Population: 1,578
Votes: 4,733,593
The determined folks of tiny Lake City gave it their all for the sake of the town’s kids, including members of the swim team, seen here. Residents rallied to win $50,000 for a desperately needed new swimming pool.

“I was fortunate to be raised in Lake City, Iowa,” wrote resident Cindy Paintner as part of the We Hear You America campaign. “Small town kids need to be able to stay in their communities, and experience the fun of summer by riding their bikes to a facility that is updated—but also safe.” 

Earning over 4.7 million of the 30+ million total votes cast, Lake City may soon realize that dream.

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2. Higginsville, MO

Population: 4,498
Votes: 3,844,133

Higginsville residents came together to save the Davis Theater on Main Street, which faces an uncertain future due to the cost of upgrading its screen to newer digital projection technology. 

“Even a cool rainy winter evening is brightened by the lights from the Davis Theater,” wrote resident James Sheehan. Hopefully, the theater can continue providing local entertainment and cheer.

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3. Minot, ND

Population: 40,888
Votes: 1,917,089

Severe floods left thousands homeless in the town of Minot in June 2011, but the disaster hardly dampened the community spirit.

“Where can you have 12,000 people homeless and only 275 in the shelter?” wrote resident Mary Barker. “People care about each other here. We opened up our homes and rolled up our sleeves to help the valley evacuate.”

With winnings from We Hear You America, Minot plans to rebuild the local zoo, which was devastated by the flooding.

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4. El Paso, IL

Population: 2,870
Votes: 1,443,380

El Paso is home to a library that was financed by Andrew Carnegie. Residents are proud of the enduring landmark, but they say it’s grown too small for the town. They aim to change that with funds from We Hear You America.

“The library in El Paso has a great staff, great books, audios, DVDs, and even Wii games. What we don’t have is room,” wrote resident Renee Griffith. “We want to offer even more to our community.”

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5. Lake Andes, SD

Population: 879
Votes: 1,358,299

Residents say Lake Andes has the oldest playground in the state, and they’re excited to use We Hear You America funds to bring it into the 21st century.

“I bet you can remember going to a park and playing on your favorite piece, like swinging, soaring like a bird through the sky,” wrote resident Brandi Ronfeldt. “Give our children smiles for a lifetime.”

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6. Weaubleau, MO

Population: 418
Votes: 1,075,837

This small town’s got big spirit. Community members are rallying around Friends of Weaubleau Park, an organization that’s working to improve the area’s beloved outdoor space.

“The group has already seen and felt the community coming together for this cause,” wrote resident Susan Barger. “I am very proud to be a part of this cause for present and future residents of our town.”

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7. Beavertown, PA

Population: 965
Votes: 1,068,310

The people of Beavertown rang in 2012 with a “Beaver Drop,” an event highlighted by the Beavertown Rescue Fire Company lowering a fake critter named Bucky from one of its trucks.

“The New Year’s celebration has become a sensation in the borough of Beavertown, so named because of the critters that once populated habitats in nearby streams,” wrote resident Karen Burns. Now, one of the town’s resolutions—to refurbish an historic building—is a one step closer to completion thanks to its We Hear You America cheers.

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8. Rossville, KS

Population: 1,062
Votes: 1,061,940

Rossville residents are a proud force of change within their community. Over the years, they’ve banded together to create the Rossville Community Swimming Pool, and a new playground. Now they’re looking to revitalize Main Street.

“It is a town that believes in itself and that the impossible can be accomplished with dedication and perseverance,” wrote resident Christi McKenzie.

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9. Joplin, MO

Population: 49,024
Votes: 975,307

Joplin changed forever in May 2011, when a powerful tornado ripped through the town. Still, residents never gave up on each other.

“Even in the midst of all the the pain, all the chaos, all the loss, I have never before seen such an immediate hope in people. People from all over came to help. Even those who had just lost everything were helping to dig their neighbors out of the rubble,” wrote resident Amanda Cooper.

We Hear You America funds are slated to be put toward Parr Hill Park, a leafy recreational area that was devastated by the disaster.

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10. Ericson, NE

Population: 104
Votes: 835,855

Ericson is the smallest town that earned funds from We Hear You America, which speaks to the passion of its townspeople. They want to restore Lake Ericson, which was significantly damaged by flooding in 2010.

“Not only is Lake Ericson a community that is filled with wonderful people, it is a beautiful area to hike, camp, and when we get it fixed, to fish and swim again,” wrote resident Jennifer Wurtz.

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11. Appleton City, MO

Population: 1,127
Votes: 831,419

Appleton City residents are eager to bring new energy to their town through many exciting projects, and they cast many more votes than there are townspeople to make their voices heard. Local pride resonated with each entry.

“Appleton City is a small rural community set in the heart of America. Off the beaten path, it’s at least 100 miles in any direction from a large city, yet it is a great place to raise a family,” wrote resident Denice Nitchals.

Money from We Hear You America will be put toward business improvement initiatives proposed by community members.

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12. Chenoa, IL

Population: 1,785
Votes: 822,493

Over 800,000 voters voiced their support for Chenoa, where residents are so passionate that they show their pride at an annual parade.

“The Chenoa Fire Department is always in the annual parade. The firefighters do a great job as dressed as clowns and also as firemen,” wrote resident David Wilkins.

Community members plan to use We Hear You America funds for a library that people with disabilities can easily access.

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13. Red Boiling Springs, TN

Population: 1,028
Votes: 814,333

Residents of Red Boiling Springs want to commemorate their town’s rich past with a heritage museum. Now, with their We Hear You America cheers, they will be able to begin.

“It’s all part of the history and ambiance of a wonderful village in the Upper Cumberland Mountains. We want to preserve that history for future generations,” wrote resident Rita Watson.

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14. Taylorville, IL

Population: 11,264
Votes: 688,262

Taylorville could soon be home to a new renewable energy project, which has already been approved by city council but lacked funds for key equipment such as solar panels.

“I am so happy to see my community looking forward towards a clean energy solution for the city. We are sending a clear message to our children that energy does not have to pollute our air, water, and soils,” wrote resident Patty Rykhus

The community credits Taylorville Mayor Greg Brotherton with launching the project.

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15. Frisco, TX

Population: 116,989
Votes: 671,939

Dreams of a “park for all” in Frisco may soon be coming true.

“All children should know the joy of floating through the air in a swing,” wrote resident Valerie Conley.

We Hear You America funds will develop Hope Park into a place where all children, including those with special needs, can play together.

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16. Collingswood, NJ

Population: 13,926
Votes: 664,318

“Collingswood, NJ has so much warmth and charm!” wrote resident Joy Messner.

That spirit translated into over 633,000 votes in our We Hear You America competition. Locals hope the funds will reinvigorate their community park and Main Street.

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17. Richville, NY

Population: 323
Votes: 652,422

Richville residents want to bring a burst of energy to their town.

“We need a place to exercise and hang out and just have fun,” wrote resident Tiffany Jenkins.

Money from We Hear You America will be put toward a new community playground.

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18. Needles, CA

Population: 4,844
Votes: 611,416

Needles residents are ready to get to work on a variety of proposed projects, including new paint jobs on older buildings and community gardens.

“I’ve lived here all my life and don’t plan on leaving…. ever!” wrote resident Colleen Garcia. With help from We Hear You America, the beautification project should only intensify such strong civic pride.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest