Rotary club distributes food to local families

food into the cars of 80 families. ... “We have five families that we need to deliver to because of car problems, but ... foster children living in SOS Children's Village.

Rotary club distributes food to local families Jessie Molloy, Freelance Reporter 11:10 am CST December 19, 2017 Share +

The spirit of Christmas was all around at the Lockport Township Building the morning of Saturday, Dec. 16, as volunteers from the Lockport Rotary Club worked to distribute food to local families in need. As holiday music played loudly from a radio in the corner, club members led by Rotary President John McNulty and event coordinator Rob Cronholm loaded 16,000 pounds of food into the cars of 80 families. “We’ve been doing this as a club for 40 years,” Cronholm said. “When it first started it was just a couple of members going out and buying bags of groceries for less fortunate families and taking them to people’s houses, then we all started chipping in 10 or 20 bucks to buy more food. Now, we fundraise for it, and we donate not just enough for Christmas, but about two weeks worth of groceries to people.” The Rotary Club mainly raises money for the drive through its raffle at Old Canal Days and with the leftover funds from the Lockport Township High School top ten percent dinner. Next year, McNulty says the group plans to expand their Christmas food basket fundraising by running an NCAA squares game. “We’ll have about $6,000 in prize money, but it will cost $100 per square, which will go toward buying food,” McNulty explained. “Most of the food comes from the Northern Illinois Food Pantry. “We partnered with them years ago and we buy the food from them for a discount. The rest of it comes from the local Walmart.” This year, the club raised $3,600 to spend on the food, which was delivered Friday, Dec. 15, to the Township Building along with the regular delivery to the Lockport/Homer FISH Food Pantry.

“This is the first year we’ve used the Township building,” McNulty said. “Which worked out very well. Denise Rumchak is the Township Clerk and a member of Rotary and she let us use the space.” “Robbie said it would be perfect and I said ‘that’s what it’s here for,’” Rumchak said. As a thank you to FISH for letting them use the space, Rotary also packed several boxes of food for the pantry to distribute to its families and agreed to donate any leftover or unclaimed boxes to the pantry. The families receiving the rotary boxes were identified and contacted through the local schools. Lockport Township High School, all LTHS feeder districts, and St. Dennis and St. Joseph school officials were asked to identify families “having a hard time” in the fall, and Rotary reached out to see if they wanted help. “Whatever hard times or bad luck they’ve had, this is a way to pick up their spirits and help them out for the holidays,” Cronholm said. “We have five families that we need to deliver to because of car problems, but we tell all the others to come here between 8:30 and 11 a.m. to pick up the food,” McNulty said. “Every year we have a couple cars show up at the last minute and this year we had a couple show up at 8, but it always works out and we make it work.” Helping the club to make its distribution work were members of Interact, the Lockport High School Rotary Club affiliate. For the third year in a row the club sent a group of student volunteers to help sort and package the food for distribution on Friday night. “We had between 40 and 50 kids here helping us out, which was great,” McNulty said. Students and club members sorted the food into care packages for each family including a turkey, a gallon of milk, a case of water, fresh apples and onions, and boxes of canned and dry goods. “We’ve gotten good at the shopping,” Cronholm said. Each family was getting about 200 pounds of food given to them, which Cronholm and McNulty admitted was sometimes a challenge to fit in cars. “We really have to squeeze it in there sometimes or they’ll have to bring two cars,” Cronholm said. “It’s a good problem to have,” McNulty added. After the food deliveries were completed, the 32-member club has one more activity to conduct this Christmas. This week, the group is throwing a Christmas party for the 65 foster children living in SOS Children’s Village.

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