CL Downtown Merchants hold 'Have a Heart Food Drive'

Food drive aims to restock shelves at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.

It seems just like yesterday that Patch was covering the annual Community Harvest food drive on Thanksgiving Day.

More than 1,000 volunteers showed up early Thanksgiving morning to sort and pack 85,985 pounds worth of food donations for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, 257 King St.

It may be hard to believe, but some of those supplies have already been depleted. The most frequently selected items by pantry patrons - like chili and soda crackers - are running in low supply.

For that reason, the Downtown Crystal Lake merchants held their second annual "Have a Heart Food Drive," which concluded on Saturday. Many merchants offered special incentives for patrons dropping off donations.

"We haven't gotten out to pick up the donations, yet, so we don't know how much they collected," said Cate Williams, president of the Crystal Lake Food Pantry Board.

Last year, the businesses collected more than 3,500 pounds of food. Participating business owners offered a variety of incentives to shoppers bringing in donations. Some of those incentives included:

40 N. Williams St., offered to match donations pound for pound.

75 E. Woodstock St., gave out free appetizer cards for customers donated 10 non-perishable food items.

51 N. Williams St., gave out raffle tickets for each item donated. The raffle winner will get $200.

Many other merchants offered coupon discounts. For a list, visit the Downtown Crystal Lake webpage.

Food Pantry Client Numbers Rising

Williams said the numbers for the total people served by the Crystal Lake Food Pantry are starting to creep up. So far, the pantry already has served 1,550 people for February, she said.

"We've given out 2,793 bags of food already this month," Williams said.

Clients of the pantry are permitted to receive food two times per month. Only 40 percent of the clients actually visit twice with the remaining 60 percent only receiving donations once monthly.

The pantry typically gives those in need about one week's worth of food, Williams said.

"We're not their only source for food," Williams said. "Our goal is to provide about 25 percent of their (monthly) food source. Right now, we're actually providing about 31 percent."

Williams said most people would be surprised by the people who need help from the pantry. With the economic hard times over recent years, many folks have unexpectantly found themselves in need of help.

"Hunger doesn't know a race," Williams said. "When I look out into our waiting room I see the people you see sitting next to you at church, or at school. There are people from all walks of life."


 Click here for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry's list of most needed items.


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