Even though the FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville is in good shape for Thanksgiving, its director notes that people are hungry 365 days a year and donations are always appreciated.
"People always tend to think of food pantries at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's those lean months of February and March and April and especially our worst months -- our July and August -- when we really need help with food," said Mary Graziano, president of the Fish Food Pantry.
Besides the food, Graziano says, personal hygiene items, such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant and toothbrushes, also are needed. So are dog and cat food, since many families don't want to part with their pets, especially in these hard economic times.
Activity has been heavy this week, with food going out the door almost as fast as it's coming in. Last Wednesday, the pantry served 85 families in four hours.
On average, the pantry gives food to 450 families a month, but in October that number climbed to 506, Graziano said. The numbers are expected to be even higher this month.
"We're not desperate. It's just that there are so many people in need," Graziano said. "It's always been crazy around the holidays, but this year is worse."
Luckily, the food supply isn't close to running out. The Knights of Columbus and parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in West Dundee, as well as a local Girl Scout troop have been donating food for the last three weekends. About a dozen flatbeds of food and 70 frozen pies also have come in, which allows volunteers to add a holiday food bag with other food items.
"Donations have been fantastic," said volunteer Gail Motyl, who lives in West Dundee. "Oh, my Lord, thank you for answering the prayer."
Village Pizza in Carpentersville is holding a fundraiser for the pantry from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 7 at the restaurant. There is a $10 suggested donation, and Joe Haimann, the event's organizer, will cover everyone's pizza and soda. There will also be a cash bar.
Haimann, a newly elected Kane County Board member, is organizing the event. Since he ran uncontested for the 24th District seat, which covers parts of Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, he didn't need to raise money for his own campaign. That allowed him to save his energy for FISH.
"I thought I would do a fundraiser and everything goes to the FISH pantry," Haimann said, adding that he's using money out of his own pocket to put this on.
The pantry is in Meadowdale Mall at 150 S. Kennedy Drive and serves people within Dundee Township and Community Unit District 300. For more information, call (847) 428-HELP.