St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich has displayed its generosity in various shades of blue for the fifth consecutive year.
At least 1,000 pairs of donated jeans were distributed Thursday night at no cost to men, women and children in need at St. Francis de Sales' ministry center on Buesching Road. The jeans were handed out in conjunction with the St. Vincent de Paul Society's weekly food pantry at the parish.
Susan Miller once again led the Clean Jean Drive that she launched in 2008. She said it all goes quickly, with two weekends allotted to receiving donations at the Catholic church before the distribution.
Miller complimented the donors who came through mostly with new jeans for the drive.
"Actually, what we received has been phenomenal. Very giving," Miller said during a brief break.
Sizes from a 3-month-old child to a man's 52-inch waist were available. Those who wanted jeans were asked in advance to complete a form stating the total number needed, sizes and gender, but Miller said attempts were made to provide for anyone who dropped into the ministry center.
Miller said this was the first year that all orders were filled.
"We serve mostly Ela Township," Miller said. "But people do come from all over. There are people here definitely from Lake Zurich, Kildeer, Long Grove and those cities. But we also have people coming in from Wauconda, Mundelein, Island Lake, Round Lake."
Parishioner Donald P. Murray, a food pantry volunteer, said the visitors are taken at their word and don't have to prove need for the jeans or groceries. He said an average of 180 clients -- each representing a typical family of four -- visit the pantry weekly, but Thursday was much busier because of the jeans.
Murray said there are plenty of less-fortunate residents in the suburbs.
"It's not like everything is just golden," he said. "This is a microcosm of Lake Zurich. It really is. You'll see these men and women at Walmart, you see them at all the shops around here working. There is a neighbor of mine sitting right out there."
Volunteer Rose Weismann, a St. Francis de Sales parishioner, praised Miller for her work on the jeans drive. Weismann said Miller worked to gain last-minute donations of about 300 jeans to hit the 1,000 mark.
"She's really the brains behind the whole operation," Weismann said.