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Churches collect food for area pantries

Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 29, 2013 10:53 a.m. CDT
(Sarah Nader)
Sarah Nader - Stuart Swanson, 17, of McHenry helps load donated food items onto the truck Sunday while volunteering at the Community Food Drive organized by local churches at McHenry High School – West Campus. Last year, churches gathered nearly 7,200 pounds of food for local pantries. This year, members gathered nonperishable for items and funds that the pantries can use to buy meat, dairy and fresh produce.

McHENRY – A white pick-up truck backed up to the semi-truck parked behind McHenry West High School on Sunday afternoon, the bed of the truck filled with food.

In a quick procession, about 10 people unloaded bags filled with canned vegetables and fruit, vegetable oil, ramen noodles and cereal, piling them into 3-foot tall boxes.

By the end of the day, the semi-truck was filled with about 11,500 pounds of food to be delivered through the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which has partnerships with area food pantries.

The event was put together through Christ Together, an organization founded in Lake County in 2000 to get churches working together.

Last year, 12 area churches raised almost 7,200 pounds of food for local pantries. This year, the group beat its goal of 10,000 pounds.

“I didn’t actually think we would make it, but we passed it,” volunteer organizer Jim Van Peursem said. “It’s awesome. It’s so great. It’s going to feed so many people in the community.”

Van Peursem goes to The Chapel in McHenry, one of the 10 churches that participated this year.

The other churches include the Community of Faith Lutheran Church in Spring Grove, Lifespring Community Church in Spring Grove, Light House Church in McHenry, Fellowship of Faith Lutheran Church in McHenry, Meadowland Church in Johnsburg, Maranatha Assembly of God in McHenry, McHenry Evangelical Free Church of McHenry, Spring Grove Bible Fellowship in Spring Grove and The Orchard Church in McHenry.

Once all the food had been delivered, parishioners of the various gathered for a service, in which all the pastors participated, accompanied by a band made up by people from the different churches.

About 250 people attended Sunday evening.

“So many times churches are like silos among themselves and almost see each other as competition for trying to get people to come in,” Van Peursem said. “We’re trying to get churches to work together, to impact the community and build up trust. We’re all a part of the same body, worshiping the same God.”

The churches also put on Fall Fest, a free festival in McHenry’s Veterans Memorial Park, and organized a program around Valentine’s Day to give parents the opportunity to go out on a date.

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