Change is Inevitable!

It’s been an incredibly busy Spring and Summer, which explains why the blog has been inactive for a while. Many exciting things happened – we had our annual Volunteer Luncheon in May, where our fabulous Gina Hubberts won the Volunteer of the Year Award. The 31st Annual Hunger Walk occurred in June (which, by the way, our pantry is still able to accept donations until the end of this month – visit here), and most importantly, we have finally switched to a completely electronic signature system which has significantly cut down on client wait times and labor in gathering statistics! We’re using the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Food Bank Manager program and it’s pretty awesome!

We also adjusted our Wednesday hours to 9 am to 12 noon. Very recently, we adjusted our evening distribution hours (2nd Tuesday of every month) to 6 pm to 7:30 pm. – this evening change takes affect in September.

Through the end of August, we’ll continue our distribution of school supplies for our clients’ children aged K through 12th grade. If you’d like to donate new, unused school supplies like pocket folders, pens/pencils, or lined paper, please stop at the pantry on Wednesday morning by August 20th or call us at 773-283-6296.

In October we will start our Coat Distribution, and before you know it, we’ll be wading in winter and getting ready for our November and December Holiday Distributions!

That’s it for now…gotta get back to work!

December Food Drives and TOY Collection!

As we wrap up November, we’re feverishly preparing for our December distribution. In particular, we’re gearing up to collect new toys and new books for our clients’ children (infant to age 12), and food donations for our annual holiday distribution on December 16th. Last year we provided books and toys to over 400 children! Unwrapped NEW toys and food donations are needed! Check out this flyer to find out all of our drop-off locations!

Angel flyer 2015 FINAL food pantry

Please take a look at our November issue of Breadcrumbs, as it gives specific details of our foods we need, as well as the toys we’re collecting for the Holiday Distribution. In addition, our Pet Food Corner is in need of drivers to help pick up and drop off pet food donations.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP:
Make a donation! Go to the right side of the screen, and make a tax-deductible donation using PayPal!

Use the SMILE FEATURE at Amazon.com when you shop for the holidays! If you use that bookmark and designate our food pantry as a recipient, we will receive 0.5% of the price of all purchases, made all year long!

SMILE amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call us at 773-283-6296. Leave a message if it’s after hours, and one of us will call you back. With your generous help, we will live up to our purpose, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.”

PLEASE NOTE: The pantry will be closed on Wednesdays, November 25th, December 23rd and December 30th. We will re-open on Wednesday, January 6th of 2016!

FALL means Coats and our Annual Beer & Wine-Tasting Event!

 SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, October 25th from 3 – 5 p.m. 7th Annual Beer & Wine Tasting Fundraiser to benefit Irving Park Food Pantry! At the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Wines, Beer, Food, Silent Auction – Join Us! Go to our home page and purchase tickets. Follow the “Buy Now” button. Also, if you have any goods or services you would like to donate to our Silent Auction, or if you’d like to help us plan the event, please email Lee and she’ll give you the date of our next planning meeting.

 

Erika School Supplies

Thank you to the group of volunteers who coordinated our school-supply distribution this past Wednesday. Giving out supplies were (l-r): Anjelys, Ariana, Erika, Amaya, Leslie, Vivianna, Alex, Jolie and Gianna. We thank them for their help, and we thank all of our supporters for helping our clients’ children start the school year right!

The Irving Park Community Food Pantry will be distributing WINTER COATS to our clients in October, so please check your closets for any gently used coats that you can do without and bring them to the Pantry. They can be left with food donations at the bottom of the stairs at the Grace Street Entrance at the Irving Park United Methodist Church or delivered on Wednesday mornings during the Pantry’s operating hours (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). All sizes and shapes of heavier coats for winter, for children and adults, are needed.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who attended the dedication of our new Herb Garden near our entry door at Irving Park United Methodist Church on July 25. It was a beautiful day and we appreciate the turnout at our festivities to introduce the garden. We thank everyone who contributed time, money and effort to install the garden and get it off to a good start. Special thanks to our special guests, including State Representative Jaime Andrade, Alderman John Arena and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Frank Avila, as well as representatives from other community groups that have supported our efforts.

The garden has been planted with a variety of herbs this year, with the intent to expand to plan vegetables (lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, etc.) next year in the first full growing season. Each of the boxes of herbs is being offered for “adoption,” allowing different groups to help care for it, weeding and seeding the herbs. Adopters to date include Irving Park Hispana United Methodist Church (cilantro), Irving Park United Methodist Church Youth (rosemary) and Carlson Community Services – Three Brothers Garden (basil). Other boxes are still available to adopt. We also are looking for donations to help us obtain an arbor, a secondary bench and security lights. If you are interested in adopting a box or helping with these needs, please call us at 773-283-6296 and leave a message for Vicci Rodgers.

In August, we began harvesting and distributing fresh basil, rosemary and thyme from the plants recently installed. About 25 small bags of herbs were distributed to clients within minutes of being picked. Thank you to Mimi Nguyen, who harvested the herbs and will continue to do so on a weekly basis this summer. The clients were quite surprised and excited to receive them. One intended to make a rosemary chicken, while another mentioned making spaghetti sauce. We are pleased we can make use of the garden already and have it be so well received! Please stop by whenever you are walking by Keeler and see how well our volunteers’ efforts have paid off.

THANK YOU to the four employees from Whole Foods Market Sauganash who visited during our distribution on August 12 and helped create food bags and perform other chores. We are always willing to work with companies that would like to organize employees to volunteer with us for a day.

As of August, it has been two years since the Pantry began opening for two night-time hours on the second Tuesday of each month. We are happy to say that our numbers continued to rise in the second year of the program. In our first year, we served an average of 36 households each month with 105 people. In our second year, we served an average of 54 households each month with 152 people. In our largest month in the first year (July), we served 53 households with 149 people; this year, in our largest month (December), we served 71 households with 219 people. Best of all, the program signed up 67 new households this year, totaling 153 new people being served. They have been assimilated into the Tuesday night and regular Wednesday distributions.

We appreciate all of the volunteers who have helped to make this new service a success and hope we can continue to see this program grow so we can serve even more households.