Volunteers from a youth group and a men's Bible study on Saturday finished a job started a day earlier by 100 alternative music fans working for concert tickets.
The collection of volunteers packed a total of 10,000 Christmas food boxes to be distributed to 17 Chicago area sites by the Salvation Army's Metropolitan Division.
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Salvation Army Major David Dalberg said the enthusiasm of the concert ticket-seeking volunteers, who packed boxes to earn their way into "The Night We Stole Christmas" sponsored by alternative station Q87.7, almost stole the show from other volunteers scheduled to contribute Saturday.
"They wanted to stay and finish the whole job," Dalberg said.
The station's owner contacted the Salvation Army looking for a way to get young adult listeners involved with charitable work by rewarding them with free tickets to a sold-out show to be held Saturday night.
"What was really important for us was it was a whole new group of volunteers we had never seen before," Dalberg said about the Q87.7 listeners, who packed about 7,500 boxes. "They really left with a sense of giving and helping others."
The same sense of giving drew four members of a men's Bible study group from Willow North Shore, a location of Willow Creek Community Church in Northfield, to the Metropolitan Division's Disaster Services Center in Elk Grove Village on Saturday to wrap up the food-packing job.
They added large bags of fresh potatoes and oatmeal bars, along with holiday favorites, such as cranberry sauce, yams, gravy and stuffing to cardboard boxes bound for the tables of families who can't afford a Christmas feast.
"The Salvation Army is about giving and not just because it's the Christmas season do we think of that, but we've actually done this at different times of year as well," Best said about the meal box packing effort.
The 10,000 Christmas meal boxes packed Friday and Saturday are meant to serve a family of four and will come with either a ham or a turkey. Boxes will be given to 17 churches the Salvation Army refers to as Corps Community Centers for the additional services they provide, while the charity's familiar red kettles stand outside stores seeking donations to support such programs.
"The Salvation Army does so much for everyone," volunteer Ruthann Botica of Chicago said Saturday. "I wanted to be a part of it."