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updated: 7/10/2014 5:53 PM

Chase employees in Elgin pack 30,000 meals for area families

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  • Video: Helping local hungry families

  • Andrea Duenser of Arlington Heights high-fives co-worker Gwen Jones of Chicago after their team finishes its first box of food for Feeding Children Everywhere at Chase's Elgin credit card services call center in Elgin Thursday. Volunteers packed 30,000 meals for Elgin area families to be distributed by Food for Greater Elgin pantry.

       Andrea Duenser of Arlington Heights high-fives co-worker Gwen Jones of Chicago after their team finishes its first box of food for Feeding Children Everywhere at Chase's Elgin credit card services call center in Elgin Thursday. Volunteers packed 30,000 meals for Elgin area families to be distributed by Food for Greater Elgin pantry.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Cindy Cunningham of Algonquin holds the bag in which rice, lentils, dried vegetables and Himalayan salt are mixed together by fellow volunteers. Chase volunteers packed 30,000 meals for area families in need Thursday at the bank's Elgin call center. Chase is working with supplies from Feeding Children Everywhere and the meals will be distributed by Food for Greater Elgin.

       Cindy Cunningham of Algonquin holds the bag in which rice, lentils, dried vegetables and Himalayan salt are mixed together by fellow volunteers. Chase volunteers packed 30,000 meals for area families in need Thursday at the bank's Elgin call center. Chase is working with supplies from Feeding Children Everywhere and the meals will be distributed by Food for Greater Elgin.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Lentils are scooped for a packaged meal serving a family by Chase Bank employees in Elgin Thursday afternoon. For the second year, Chase volunteers packed 30,000 meals for area families in need.

       Lentils are scooped for a packaged meal serving a family by Chase Bank employees in Elgin Thursday afternoon. For the second year, Chase volunteers packed 30,000 meals for area families in need.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Filled boxes of food prepared for the Food for Greater Elgin pantry are stacked up as the first of two volunteer shifts ends Thursday. For the second year, Chase employees packed 30,000 meals for area families in need at the bank's Elgin credit card services facility.

       Filled boxes of food prepared for the Food for Greater Elgin pantry are stacked up as the first of two volunteer shifts ends Thursday. For the second year, Chase employees packed 30,000 meals for area families in need at the bank's Elgin credit card services facility.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Packages of food are stacked and ready to be sealed during Chase Bank's volunteer event Thursday afternoon in Elgin. Chase is working with supplies from Feeding Children Everywhere and the meals will go to Food for Greater Elgin pantry.

       Packages of food are stacked and ready to be sealed during Chase Bank's volunteer event Thursday afternoon in Elgin. Chase is working with supplies from Feeding Children Everywhere and the meals will go to Food for Greater Elgin pantry.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Juan Bonilla of Berwyn helps during a volunteer event Thursday at Chase's Elgin credit card services facility as volunteers pack 30,000 meals for area families.

       Juan Bonilla of Berwyn helps during a volunteer event Thursday at Chase's Elgin credit card services facility as volunteers pack 30,000 meals for area families.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Volunteers at Chase's Elgin facility team up to package 12,000 meals within the first hour of the company event Thursday.

       Volunteers at Chase's Elgin facility team up to package 12,000 meals within the first hour of the company event Thursday.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Roughly 250 Chase Bank employees spent Thursday afternoon at Chase's Elgin call center packing 30,000 meals for local families in need.

It's the second year Chase has partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere, which provides the raw ingredients that volunteers then pack into bags of meals for families.

"It's going to do a lot of good," said Ryan Rodriguez of Elgin, who works in Chase credit card services. "To know that we're going to help that many people I think is what does it for me. This is what my passion is."

The meals go to the Food for Greater Elgin food pantry, which provides food assistance to 1,200 families monthly in Elgin and surrounding areas, altogether feeding 5,500 people of whom nearly half are children.

"The need is great," Chase spokeswoman Christine Holevas said. "In the suburbs, this is the biggest drive (for Chase)."

Partnering with Chase has been mutually beneficial, said Kile Riggs with Feeding Children Everywhere.

"We do these hunger projects all over the country and Chase locations all around the U.S. package meals. It's one of our greatest partnerships," he said. "They get to mobilize and empower their people to do something great together and the end result is that hungry children and families get fed right here in the area."

An assembly line of volunteers wearing hair nets put together the five or six ingredients that make up the rice/bean/lentil-based nonperishable meal into sealable bags. The bags are labeled with cooking instructions and nutritional information.

"It's like a dry soup mix," said Susan Lauber, head of the volunteer group at Chase Elgin. "Each bag of dry ingredients feeds up to five people so they can be stored. They can be distributed without refrigeration."

Water is the only ingredient needed to boil the soup so there's minimal preparation or equipment involved, Lauber said.

Lauber said many of the call center's 2,000 employees come from Elgin and surrounding communities and want to give back.

"Our volunteers are very committed to making a difference in the Elgin community," Lauber said. "It's a wonderful feeling when you know that you've had a positive impact in a child's life."

In 2013, Chase employees in Illinois volunteered more than 12,000 hours within their communities, Holevas said.

"The Elgin group is a big part of that," she said. "They are a very active volunteer group, really committed to helping the Elgin community."

Chase celebrated 40 years in Elgin last year.

• Daily Herald staff photographer Laura Stoecker contributed to this story.

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