The generosity from local residents after the Coal City-Diamond tornado has caused the community to spread the wealth.
The Coal City Methodist Church was the donation hub after the Nov. 17 tornado that damaged more than 200 structures in the area. Food came from all over and resulted in a surplus the church has spread among local food pantries, said Denise Gaska, executive director of We Care of Grundy County.
“We are in pretty good shape right now,” said Judi Hittle, president of the Coal City Food Pantry. “People are so giving at the holidays. It’s July and August when people seem to not remember people are in need of things.”
“The need goes on 365 days,” she continued.
As the holidays pass, typically local food pantries will start to feel a low in coming months, but with the church sharing its donations, local pantries are well stocked at this time. But there are some staple items they are always in need of.
What We Care does need help with, urgently, is volunteers to take on the remaining donations from the Coal City Methodist Church.
After all the food pantries took what they could from the leftover tornado relief donations, the church offered all of what is remaining to We Care, Gaska said. It is so much food that they canceled their delivery from the Northern Illinois Food Bank for December, which creates a financial savings for We Care.
“We think it is about two months worth of food,” she said. “Each month we spend about $1,500 on food, so that is about $3,000 worth of food.”
That $3,000 amount is from the discounted price they receive from the food bank, she added. The actual retail price would be $10,000 to $15,000 worth of food.
So on Jan. 2 they are in need of volunteers to load the food and deliver it from Coal City and then to unload it at the We Care location in Morris. Loading in Coal City will begin at 9 a.m. at the Coal City maintenance shed at McArdle Road and Broadway Street. Gaska said they also are looking for volunteers with pick-up trucks and trailers at that location, and volunteers to unload at We Care, 520 W. Illinois Ave. in Morris, at about 10 a.m. Jan. 2.
Minooka Bible Church food pantry also is in need of volunteers to help box their food. The pantry pre-packs its food for the families it serves in Minooka, Channahon and all of Grundy County. It hands out the boxes the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
The Minooka pantry packages the food from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays, said Lyle Selk of the pantry, at the church, 412 N. Wabena Ave. in Minooka.
Some of the staple items We Care and most all food pantries are always in need of are canned meats, pancake mix, syrup and jelly, Gaska said. Paper products, such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene, and other personal hygiene products also are always needed.
“Those seem to be our biggest thing that is hardest to come up with all year,” Hittle said.
Another item not so thought of is pet food.
Since September, the Gardner food pantry in the Church of Hope has seen the families it serves monthly go from 22 to 32, said Crystal Nelson of the pantry.
“We have had a lot of new people due to people being laid off and losing their jobs, especially around the holidays,” she said. “And the next one coming up is Easter.”
They also received the surplus from the tornado relief, but are always in need of meat, soups and boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper, Nelson said.