VIDEO: Glenview Embraces the Spirit of Giving
Local volunteers and organizations including the Northfield Township Food Pantry, Youth Services and Glenbrook South's student council, give back this holiday season by offering service and support to families in need.
With the holiday season in full-swing, Glenview residents and aid organizations are in the spirit, helping those less fortunate throughout the community.
While the area is typically viewed as one of wealth and privilege, volunteers like Carol Cheng understand the need for support in Glenview.
"The need is great, despite the general abundance and affluence of the North Shore," she said. "There are many hungry families in Glenview that usually go unnoticed. There is a dangerous misconception that such problems exist only downtown in urban, underprivileged, under-resourced areas of the city."
Northfield Township Food Pantry Serves Record Number of Families
Preparations for the holiday season are well under way at the Northfield Township Food Pantry. For Thanksgiving, the pantry distributed grocery store gift cards allowing families to purchase specific food items as part of their holiday traditions, said Gayle Zalatoris, Community Coordinator of Northfield Township.
"We are extremely fortunate that we live in such a generous community," Zalatoris explained. "Anytime we have a need and the word gets out, the community steps up to ensure we are able to continue helping those in need."
Currently, the pantry is serving more than 620 local families, a number that has skyrocketed and shows no signs of slowing down, according to Zalatoris.
With the considerable number of families served, all donations of unexpired, unopened non-perishable or perishable food items are needed, Zalatoris added. The pantry depends entirely on donations and the generosity of community members.
"We go through our food supply very quickly," Zalatoris explained.
Also for Thanksgiving, the pantry utilized donations from local retailers and organizations including Jewel-Osco and the Skokie Valley Baptist Church to distribute holiday dinners to families. Additional community supporters include First American Bank, 2101 Willow Road, and AAA Lock & Key, 1730 Waukegan Road, both holding food drives to support the pantry.
Alan Campbell, a regular pantry volunteer, says he has found sharing time with families in need to be a rewarding experience.
"[I encourage people to] give back to a community that has been very good for families," he said. "The feeling of helping others is a blessing in itself. The joy outweighs the work."
In addition to food donations, financial donations and volunteer efforts can help ensure the pantry is able to continue providing support to so many families throughout the community, Zalatoris said.
"It's important to help those in need during the holiday season, but even more important to remember these families all year long."
Volunteers are encouraged to donate their time on Thursday evenings until 8pm and on the first and second Saturdays of the month from May-September.
To learn more about the pantry's efforts for the holiday season, check out Patch's video to the upper right.
Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook Partners With Local Church
Beneficiaries of Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook were among thousands of recipients to enjoy Thanksgiving meals through contributions from the North Suburban Evangelical Free Church in Deerfield.
Named "Project Share," the church's goal was to provide 1,000 food baskets to agencies/ministries throughout the Chicago area, explained Carol Cheng, a church member and volunteer who also works as an administrative assistant for Youth Services.
This holiday season, Cheng says she is encouraged by the many helpful hands around her and the hope that children and families in need know they are not alone.
"I hope that [those in need] realize they can have hope for a better future, through education, through agencies such as ours, though other community help and through the generosity of others," she said.
"CANDEMONIUM!" at Glenbrook South High School
Students at Glenbrook South High School set a school record this Thanksgiving when they collected 100,006 cans of food to benefit local families and charities for the holiday season.
Student council members Dylan Wickrema, Dan Takaki, and Benji Wax have been an integral part of this year's event, which has been a tradition at the school since 1983.
"We hope that families in need are supplied with enough food to get through this difficult time in their lives," the students said. "Knowing that you were helpful in providing a meal for another family just makes our community that much stronger."