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Community Harvest food drive puts the giving 
in Thanksgiving

(Monica Maschak –
Volunteer Jay Gorski, of Crystal Lake, weighs food donations for the food pantry Tuesday at the Community Harvest Collection site in the Crystal Lake Plaza. The Community Harvest is run by the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, Crystal Lake Food Pantry and the Crystal Lake Jaycees and will be expecting donations from 700-800 community members on Thanksgiving day.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Before McHenry County residents enter a tryptophan-induced coma, hundreds of volunteers on Thanksgiving will give their time for those with less on their plates this holiday season.

Thanksgiving marks the culmination of Community Harvest’s monthlong food drive. The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and Jaycees have teamed up with the Crystal Lake Food Pantry to organize the effort, which supports both the pantry and the Jaycees’ Share A Christmas program.

Although it’s too early to tell how much has been collected this year, event chairwoman Judy Pelinski said she hopes the campaign will bring in more than last year’s record 97,688 pounds of food. In a banner year, Community Harvest in 2011 also netted more than $45,000 in donations.

“I panic until Thanksgiving morning,” said Pelinski, who has chaired the drive for six years. “Until we have the totals, I’m always just so worried that we don’t have enough.”

Last year, food collected through the drive kept the food pantry’s shelves stocked through winter and well into March, Pelinski said.

“Unfortunately, people have a preconceived notion of who uses the food pantry, and it’s very wrong,” Pelinski said. “It’s the check-out lady in the grocery line, it’s the people standing next to you at church, it’s the people down the street. You have no idea how difficult it might be for somebody.”

On Thanksgiving morning, volunteers will gather from 8 to 10:30 at the new collection site – Unit 2D in Crystal Lake Plaza – to weigh, sort and pack food donations.

Community Harvest brings together schools, churches, families and area businesses that collected donations during the campaign.

“Community Harvest gives [volunteers] a sense of community and family,” Pelinski said. “They thank us for giving them a place to go on Thanksgiving. They’re doing so much for us, but they thank us for what we’re doing for them.”

How to help

Food will be collected through Thursday at the Community Harvest Site, Crystal Lake Plaza, Unit 2D (near Route 14 and Keith Street) in Crystal Lake. Food will be sorted and boxed from 8 a.m. to 10:30 Thanksgiving morning.

Donations can be made online at Checks made payable to the Crystal Lake Food Pantry can be mailed to P.O. Box 1071, Crystal Lake, IL 60039-1071, with “Community Harvest” noted in the memo section.


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