Volunteers at the FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville distributed food to slightly more than 290 additional Dundee Township families last year than the previous year.
When the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 5,252 had walked through the pantry's door in the Meadowdale Shopping Center, said FISH President Mary Graziano.
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"Those are just the families. That number translates into 25,206 individuals," she said. "Compared to 2011, 704 more people received food from FISH in 2012."
She and other volunteers can blame the recovering economy, the mild weather, or the additional two hours pantry is open on Wednesday nights.
"There are a lot of reasons why people turn to us," she said. "We can see more clients this winter because people who work landscaping have been laid off for the season. It hasn't snowed so they don't have their income from snow plowing."
Whatever the reason, local generosity has allowed volunteers to constantly meet the increasing needs.
"Take for example the recent holidays," Graziano said. "Every year, we have more people needing food; children are out of school; many people have been laid off. Groups in Dundee Township have always helped out."
Some of the groups are the Knights of Columbus at St. Catherine of Siena and members of St. James Episcopal Church which held food drives between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Other groups and local schools hold drives throughout the entire year to make sure FISH volunteers have cereal, soup, peanut butter, pasta and toiletries to put in clients' bags.
They help them get through the holidays, and they help them during their lean months of February and March.
"Yes, these are the months we become concerned with because the glow of the holidays quickly fades," Graziano said. "It will not be long before our shelves become sparse. If our numbers continue to increase, the donations will go more quickly."
As it stands, volunteers are running low on items, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo, she said.
"Clients on food stamps can't use them to buy personal hygiene items," she said. "And many times those items are very expensive."
For more information about the pantry or to donate food or money, call (847) 428-4357. The pantry is open from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is also open from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday.