The planned renovation of the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Interfaith Food Pantry is gearing up as a communitywide effort, and organizers hope that a fundraising campaign will help ratchet more support from local donors and volunteers.
Richard Hoferle, president for the Lake in the Hills pantry, said the goal is to kick off a fundraising drive in March for the $277,000 renovation project that includes more parking, a new roof, new plumbing and new heating and air conditioning.
The village of Lake in the Hills committed to contributing nearly $45,000, Algonquin trustee Jim Steigert is donating his time to draw architectural plans, and Algonquin community development director Russ Farnum is helping with grant applications, Hoferle said.
The fundraising campaign has a goal of $250,000 in donations because the pantry has already collected about $20,000, said Hoferle, who hopes to begin construction this fall. Pantry operations will not be disrupted, although they might be temporarily relocated for 60 to 90 days, he said.
The 2,000-square foot pantry is housed in a public works equipment storage facility owned by the village of Lake in the Hills at 600 E. Oak St. "Basically, it's a metal roof, metal sides, with very little insulation," Hoferle said. "There are a couple of large central heating units that were never designed for human habitation, just to keep the equipment from freezing."
Lake in the Hills will pay for the exterior work, including adding about a dozen parking spaces and a new roof on top of the current, leaking roof, Hoferle said.
The only paid staff member is a part-time administrator, but the pantry is also staffed by five to eight volunteers during open hours, out of a pool of about 100 volunteers.
When it opened in 2000, the pantry served less than 25 families per month, but by the end of 2010 it was serving about 200 families monthly, Hoferle said. The pantry provides mostly canned and nonperishable foods, plus some fresh fruits and vegetables totally about $250,000 annually, Hoferle said.
Hoferle said the current economy might affect fundraising efforts.
"We started contacting churches, but we have not had a lot of success," he said. "One reason for sure it's the tough economic times that the churches are facing. We realize that. We're looking for warm bodies to knock on doors and maybe do some of the physical construction work."
Steigert said he initially offered to help with fundraising, but about three weeks ago, he realized there were no architectural plans.
"It has been a very beneficial organization for the residents of both of these communities, and the need has been exasperated due this economy," he said.
Steigert said he aims to complete the "as-built" plans in the next couple of weeks. It's crucial for prospective volunteers and donors to know what kind of work or materials are needed, he added.
"People are more willing to pitch in and help if they know what the extent of their obligation is," he said.