At least three Northwest suburban towns are encouraging residents to bring food and paper products to their respective Fourth of July parades to donate to local food pantries.
The first will take place in Hoffman Estates during the village's Fourth of July parade at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4. The Celebrations Commission will accept nonperishable food, paper products and monetary donations for township food pantries on a float while traveling the Hassell Road parade route.
At the Mount Prospect Fourth of July parade at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4, residents can drop off food and paper product donations in shopping carts pushed by volunteers from St. Mark Lutheran Church and St. Raymond Catholic Church. The group will take periodic breaks to entertain parade spectators with synchronized shopping cart maneuvers as they follow the parade route on Prospect Avenue and Central Road.
Shopping carts will also be present during Bartlett's Fourth of July parade at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 8. This is the first year the Bartlett Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Hanover Township to collect food pantry donations in carts along the parade route, which south on South Bartlett Road from Bartlett Park to the Bartlett Festival off Stearns Road.
Bartlett chamber president Amy Feeley, who thought of the idea, said last year -- when the chamber was working alone on the effort -- only around 50 items were donated because many residents were not aware of the collection.
"Hopefully people will really start responding to this and it will become a tradition," she said, adding that when her kids were growing up they looked forward to a similar event in their hometown each year.
Mary Jo Imperato, director of welfare services for Hanover Township, said summer is usually the hardest time for food pantries to keep their shelves full because schools that would usually provide help are not open.
While everything from canned meats and fruits to peanut better and meals in a box are always appreciated, Imperato said the Hanover Township Food Pantry is most in need of personal care items, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body soap and feminine products.