When you walk into the basement of Our Lady of Peace on a day when their food pantry is operating, you will feel the love and kindness emanating from the volunteers. You can't help but smile when you talk to them; their energy is so infectious.

Len Benes, the administrator of the pantry, is clearly proud of the dedication of all who support this important ministry.

The "doors" of the food pantry first opened in May of 1982 with six volunteers.

Today, there are 45 volunteers and some of them were there when it all began. It takes a lot to keep things running smoothly and making sure that they maximize their resources.

Whether it is maintaining an accurate inventory, organizing the pantry, filling grocery bags or greeting people when they walk in, it is the "coming together" of those dedicated to helping that makes it all work. The generosity of the parishioners was highlighted as an integral part of the success of the pantry.

Whether it is with food or monetary donations, this generosity helps the pantry to put food into the hands of approximately 50 individuals and families every WEEK.

These groceries include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and personal care items.

While speaking to some of the current volunteers, they all had similar comments about why they give their time to the pantry: "It is such a blessing to help people in their time of need. To see the smile on someone's face when you give them a bag of groceries and they express how thankful they are; it's just nice knowing you can help someone when they need it." Each of the six volunteers that I spoke to all expressed these sentiments. They also made it clear that it doesn't matter the age or circumstance of the person, feeding and caring for others during their time of need without judgment is important.

The food pantry is open to residents who live in Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Hinsdale and Willowbrook. It operates all year long and is open on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

There are a number of ways that you can support the efforts of Our Lady of Peace food pantry. If you wish to make a donation whether it is food, money, time or clothing (they also offer clothing during food pantry hours), you can contact the Rectory office at (630) 323-4333 to leave a message for Len Benes.

Perhaps you work with an organization like Boy Scout Troop 97 or Cub Scout Troop 101 and would like to hold a food drive to benefit the pantry. hese two troops recently held such a drive that resulted in 1.5 tons of food and $600 being given to the OLP Food Pantry.

Just talk to Len and you can invest your resources, whatever they may be.

The township communities are a better place because of the volunteers at the Our Lady of Peace Church food pantry.

Your genuineness, kindness, generosity and love all shines through and we are better for it. We at the Township are grateful to have people like you meeting such an important need. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to helping others.