Thanks to all who helped us on our set-up day and our Holiday Distribution day in December. Because of the generous assistance of so many, we served 1,166 individuals in 356 households.

Liberty Tax Services on West Irving Park Road is partnering with the Pantry once again this year to generate additional donations. For every paid tax return completed between January 2 and February 15, Liberty will donate $5 to the Pantry. For more information, contact manager Michael McNichols at 773-286-6900.

Special thanks to the parishioners and 70 volunteers at Mount Olive Church, who canvassed Old Irving Park and the Villa to collect donations of food and money for the Pantry in November, prior to the first of our two holiday distributions. This year was the most successful yet for this annual tradition. Our delivery truck was filled to the top with food from our pickup, and the church collected nearly $4,000.

We appreciate Roger Torbick for his leadership on this project, Alfreda Rommel for her efforts in organizing it as a Pantry board member and all of the members of Mount Olive who participated, as well as all our neighbors for contributing so generously.

A number of other food drives were held for the Pantry this holiday season, helping us provide additional holiday groceries to our 1,800 clients. Among those participating were Community Savings Bank and Kid Watch. Special thanks to Karla Rodrigues, manager at Spex, who coordinated a food drive in December during which people donating food received a $25 gift card for Spex.

We’d also like to thank the leaders and members of the Brownie and Juniors Girl Scout troops at St. Viator Elementary School for the recent contribution of nearly 100 “hygiene kits.” The kits consisted of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, shaving cream and razors. The contribution was part of the girls’ activities to raise awareness about those in need, in the process of which they earned a “Heart for the Homeless” badge. Many of our clients are in need of these items, and we seldom have enough to meet the requests we receive. We very much appreciate this targeted approach to donations, as they fill a gap we cannot fulfill with our own purchases and food drives.

Another thank you goes to the St. Viator Student Council, which organized a food drive among its classrooms before Thanksgiving. The students gathered about a dozen boxes of food. Then in early December, the St. Viator Parent Association collected food at its expanded Mistletoe Market of crafts and also auctioned off donated items. Those efforts brought in seven more boxes of food and $370. We appreciate the efforts of the students and parents at St. Viator to help our programs in so many ways throughout the year.

Thank you to Irving Park United Methodist Church, which donated some of the proceeds from its Broadway Christmas performances in December to the Pantry. We’d also like to thank the anonymous donor who brought into the church a donation as well as baby formula, which we always need.

We’ve received a number of other special donations in recent weeks. We’ve initiated a partnership with Rotary Club of Chicago O’Hare, through the efforts of Pat Rantella, to receive boxes of personal-care items from United Airlines that include toiletry kits with toothbrush, toothpaste, combs, face wipes and even slippers. These items are collected from planes after international trips, as opened boxes cannot be repacked for other flights. We appreciate these donations to help keep our toiletry supplies growing.

We’d also like to thank Paul Reimer, general manager at the Container Store on North Avenue, for his donation of 50 plastic bags to aid our holiday distribution and toy room organization. Thanks also to U-Haul on Cicero Avenue, which donated 10 large shipping cartons that served as collection boxes at various businesses to collect toys used in our holiday distribution.

Our thanks go to Clover Hill Bakery, which donated pastries to keep our clients feeling sweet as they waited for their holiday distribution on December 17th and shopped our Toy Room. Thanks also to the Magic After School Place (MAP) kids at Carlson Community Services, who created a banner and holiday decorations for the Pantry’s holiday program. We’ll have a full report on the distribution next month

Thanks also to Director of Volunteers Louie Iovane and everyone at the Alzheimer’s Association of Illinois, which donated hundreds of t-shirts in all sizes from its recent Memory Walk events. We will be sharing these shirts with our clients in January as an extra mid-winter treat.