Photograph and story courtesy of the Daily Herald
A bounty of food filling dozens of U.S. Postal Service bins was ready for sorting, and on Thursday a small group of volunteers at the Fremont Township food pantry took to the task.
“They feel good about it and so do we,” township Supervisor Diana O’Kelly said. The pantry’s share of the 22nd annual National Association of Letter Carriers food drive, held across the country May 10, was about 4,300 pounds, O’Kelly said.
Pasta, peanut butter, mac and cheese and cans of soup, beans and vegetables were part of the haul that served to replenish the shelves.
“We were really low,” O’Kelly said. “We’re always low,” she added.
The pantry, which is at the township building at Route 60 and Fremont Center Road, is available every weekday by appointment and is used by about 90 families per month,
“We’re seeing new faces,” O’Kelly said. “Circumstances happen to everybody,” she added.
The pantry is run entirely on donations, which can be dropped off any time. When volunteers are needed, O’Kelly puts out the call via Facebook.
A longtime Lake County Board member, O’Kelly will hold that spot until her term ends in November. She was elected to the township post in 2013 and took office about a year ago.
“She makes everything public, which is wonderful,” said Lola Davis, a former school lunch lady for many years and a core volunteer. Her granddaughter and O’Kelly’s daughter went through the Fremont Elementary District 79 school system together.
“I’m an 80-year-old woman on Facebook. If you’re going to keep up with your grandkids, that’s how you have to do it,” Davis said.
Diane O’Brien said she helps out at the pantry whenever she can.
“I love doing this. It’s great. It’s a lot of fun,” she said. The batch of donated food was the most she’s seen since she’s been helping out.
Collected food was donated by post offices to local food pantries. Libertyville Township, for example, reported receiving 4,975 pounds of goods.
“We have a very generous community so we’re not running low on food,” said Linda Blatnik, who heads the pantry that’s open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In April, food was distributed to 246 households.
“This always helps us in the spring to replenish a lot of stuff we’ve already handed out,” Blatnik said.