DUPAGE COUNTY--The spirit of giving and sharing was alive in DuPage County as residents, businesses and law enforcement organizations all came together to make sure that needy DuPage County residents were provided a meal for Thanksgiving.
Operation Basket Brigade was a huge success with 145 food baskets hand delivered in time for Thanksgiving. Each food basket held a complete Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey, vegetables, fruit and pie, all delivered in a plastic laundry basket that can be reused by recipients.
The DuPage County Police Chiefs Association, the DuPage County Law Enforcement Senior Management Group, the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, staff at the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD), the Oak Brook Fire Department, Ultra Foods and Target in Wheaton, and Caliendo's Restaurant and Bar in Winfield were active participants in this effort.
The food baskets were delivered in plenty of time for Thanksgiving by DuPage County Township officials, who identified those families who were most in need and then helped them by providing a complete meal.
"Operation Basket Brigade was a huge success and far exceeded our goals and expectations," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the DuPage County Board of Health. "We have so many people to thank, including 30 volunteers who helped sort the food items and pack the food baskets."
Handling the details of Operation Basket Brigade at the DCHD was the Office of Risk and Emergency Management (OREM).
"The staff at OREM gets a lot of credit for organizing Operation Basket Brigade and getting everything ready in advance, including recruiting volunteers using Facebook and Twitter," said Maureen McHugh, Executive Director at DCHD.
In addition to the goal of helping needy families, Operation Basket Brigade was part of an annual training exercise by OREM, in which 22 staff members were trained. During a public health emergency (such as a bioterrorist release of anthrax), OREM would coordinate a large operation to receive and distribute medications necessary to prevent any illness to those exposed. This will require staff to coordinate the inventory and repackaging of the medications, as well as transportation of the medications to dispensing sites throughout DuPage County. The Basket Brigade was a perfect mechanism for giving OREM staff this important training.
"People were really generous and the community really came through." said McHugh. "We had hoped to collect enough food to prepare 90 baskets so being able to distribute 145 baskets was above and beyond. We were able to help more people in all nine DuPage County Townships."
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