Sorting canned goods

Lake County New Sun, Jim Newton

More than 50 volunteers helped mark the end of 2014 Tuesday by preparing for 2015 at the Fremont Township Food Pantry. 

Responding to a call to action in a newsletter from Township Supervisor Diana O’Kelly, the volunteers sorted, checked expiration dates and stocked boxes of food collected during holiday drives at local schools, churches and community groups.

O’Kelly, who was aware of the volume of food that would be coming into the pantry Tuesday morning, breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the number of volunteers who donated their time for the intake process.

“This was my call-out to the community and I couldn’t be happier [with the results],” O’Kelly said as she helped bring food from the township’s overflow and sorting room to the the shelves of the pantry.

And the volunteer army had plenty of work to do.

“Fremont School alone donated over 1,800 pounds of food. There was just an outpouring of support from the community,” said O’Kelly, adding that the flow of goods should keep the pantry stocked until May, when another food drive is planned by the local post office.

The food is distributed once a week to families in need, O’Kelly said.

But to make that happen, individuals as well as groups came together during the holiday season to donate food.

“One of the most amazing things I’ve seen is how many people came and donated food to the pantry,” she said. “Our residents are being thought of.”

Tuesday’s volunteers included employees of local schools and members of the St. Mary’s Parish Youth Ministry in Buffalo Grove.

“It’s fun. I’ve never done this before, actually,” said 10-year-old Casey Lyons, who came from Cary with his father, a Fremont School teacher.

“So far, so good,” added Vernon Hills 14-year-old Jared Ray, a youth group member who was putting his climbing skills to work by stocking some of the pantry’s higher shelves. “I thought it was going to be a small thing, but it’s pretty big.”

John Long of Wauconda brought his 12-year-old son Jack to donate coats and other items.

“The more you get the kids involved, the better,” Long said. “They see what it takes to help out and see what people need.”

Likewise, Wauconda resident Noelle Duym brought her daughter Raegan after she saw in the township newsletter that help was needed.

“We feel fortunate. We’re just giving back,” she said.