Stories will be shared and friendships rekindled but there also will be another dimension to the annual gathering of Libertyville High School lacrosse players.
Seeing that the number of spectators was increasing for the alumni game, the group last year decided to pass the hat and raised $500 for the American Cancer Society.
Contact information ( * required )
The death of a former teammate's mother from the disease, and the fact the game coincided with a cancer walk, were the impetus for the impromptu collection.
"We thought, `Hey, we've got something here,'" said Seth Luxon, one of the organizers and a former player who graduated from LHS in 1997.
For the sixth alumni game, to be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Libertyville High School football field on Route 176, participants and spectators are asked to bring food or donations for the Libertyville Township food pantry.
Luxon suggested the pantry as an organization that would directly impact their hometown. However, when he pitched the idea, some fellow organizers thought Libertyville needing or having a food pantry was a joke, he said.
That changed after doing some research and speaking with Linda Blatnik, the township social worker and coordinator of the food pantry, he added.
"I was shocked. It's just regular families who have lost their jobs, seniors whose Social Security payments haven't kept up with inflation," Luxon said.
Blatnik said the number of families signed up with the pantry has grown from about 260 when she spoke with Luxon in May, to about 300 now.
"It continues to be steady. Last year, we ended up with 410 families who registered and used our pantry throughout the year," she said. "We have people who are on fixed incomes, seniors or the disabled, and then we have people who are underemployed -- their hours have been cut," or they've had to take lower paying jobs.
If a client finds a job, there is someone who becomes unemployed to replace them on the list, she added.
"Some people come in with tears, `I've never had to use a food pantry, I've only given to one,'" according to Blatnik.
A recent large donation has put the pantry, which was expanded and renovated about a year ago, in good shape, she said. But there always is room for more.
Luxon said more than $300 already has been raised through the sale of alumni shorts. About 50 players are expected to attend, some from out of state.
The action, which pits two teams of 11 against each other, is friendly, according to Luxon, but "toward the end it gets a little more competitive."