It’s a time to give thanks — and, as area residents prepare to gather around the table for a holiday meal, organizers at a local food pantry hope they’ll also consider giving back.
Shirley Grzenia, supervisor at the DuPage Township Food Pantry, said pantry staffers are expecting a high turnout for this year’s Thanksgiving distribution, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22.
“We’re always looking for volunteers for that day,” she said, estimating around 1,000 families will sign up to receive a boxed Thanksgiving meal including turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables and pie.
Volunteers are needed to assist with setup and passing out meals at the Nov. 22 distribution at the pantry, 719 Parkwood Drive in Romeoville.
“It really is a real need,” Grzenia said, adding setup will begin around 5 a.m. Volunteers can sign up to work shifts throughout the day by calling the pantry at 815-886-7986.
Thanksgiving meals will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. So far, about 300 families have registered, Grzenia said.
“Once those 1,000 [boxes] are gone, they’re gone,” she noted. Families in need of help during the holiday can register for the distribution by stopping in at the pantry from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
To qualify, clients must meet income requirements listed on the pantry’s website and be residents of DuPage Township, which includes parts of Bolingbrook, Romeoville and Naperville.
Continuing unemployment and a still-struggling economy mean demand will be high this holiday season, and donations are always welcome to the pantry, according to Grzenia.
“Our numbers are going up,” she said, “and the holidays are always harder.”
The pantry will accept donations of all kinds but is particularly in need of spaghetti sauce, noodles, boxed mashed potatoes, tuna helper, hamburger helper, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, canned vegetables, canned fruit, soup, coffee and tea.
Toiletries and hygiene items are also needed, Grzenia said. “You need to take a shower, but people who are on food stamps [are] not allowed to buy that.”
The DuPage Township Food Pantry’s regular distribution is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Parkwood Drive township building. For more information, visit the food pantry’s website.