Dick Pond manager in St. Charles leads running clubs
Glen Kamps isn't sure he's helped people more than any others when he says "there are people who are helping other people in different ways every day."
But those familiar with what Kamps has done, as manager of the Dick Pond Athletics store in St. Charles and organizer of running clubs, point to him as somewhat of a lifesaver.
"Glen is the driving force behind many of the different running groups that anyone can join for free," said Julie Murphy, a fifth-grade teacher at Hoover-Wood School in Batavia.
Murphy was convinced by her husband a few years ago to join one of Kamps' running groups and she's been healthier and greatly impressed with Kamps ever since.
"I find Glen to be a selfless person who is always thinking of others and encourages everyone, regardless of how fast or slow they run, yet he is humble," Murphy said.
One of those selfless aspects comes into play when Kamps encourages runners to pick up any loose change they may find during their runs. The groups collect that money and donate it to Salvation Army or area food pantries.
And it's not chump change. The runners collected, or found, $1,000 this year and spent it on food for the Salvation Army.
"He encourages everyone, reminds us and even tells us the places we are likely to spot loose money," Murphy said. "Then he sets up a shopping day for us at Aldi."
For Kamps, it's his job and passion nicely rolled into one.
"It's the joy you get from watching people improve their lives through some kind of activity," Kamps said of what motivates him. "It could be any kind of activity, but I just tended to gravitate to this one (running) myself, so I know more about it."
Kamps has been with Dick Pond Athletics since 1985, so he knows a thing or two about the dynamics of doing things as a group.
"We all like to be together, and see people lose weight and get off blood pressure medicine," Kamps said of his clubs. "Sometimes it is the wife pulling the husband off the couch, or vice versa, and before you know it, the whole family is trying to live longer and better through running."
Anyone who has walked in Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles or Wheeler Park in Geneva in the early evenings has probably seen a Dick Pond group making its rounds.
"Mount St. Mary is our home base, but you can get tired of just running around in the same circle, so we do go to Wheeler as well because those parks are connected through a pathway," Kamps said.
Each time, it fuels Kamps to continue. "It's great to see so many people out running and staying healthy."
Filling the pantry:
On occasion, we'll hand over a bag of groceries to the volunteers at St. Peter Church in Geneva who work to fill the shelves at the church food pantry.
Behind the scenes, a lot more goes on to make sure the pantry can deliver to those in need.
Pantry workers are especially grateful to organizations that sponsor their own drives to deliver goods to St. Peter.
The St. Peter Knights of Columbus 2191 sponsored a food drive for area Cub Scout troops last summer, and the Scouts delivered 3,300 pounds of nonperishable items for the pantry.
Geneva Lutheran Church has supported the pantry for several years with a Thanksgiving food drive -- this year donating 750 pounds of food in addition to monetary donations.
The pantry wouldn't be near as effective without this type of support.
Filling the kettle:
Colonial Café did its annual "holiday thing" yesterday, offering a day in which it would match, up to $30,000, any donations made to the Salvation Army red kettles throughout the Tri-Cities and more populated areas like Naperville, Aurora and Elgin.
Colonial, owned by the Anderson family, has long had ties to the Salvation Army, dating back to when Joe K. Anderson got heavily involved as a leader in 1951.
The Honey-Jam Café at 525 N. Randall Road opened in 2010, then closed in 2013, then opened again in 2014 and is now closed again.
City officials say the restaurant put in an order to stop utility services, but there has been no word beyond that regarding what the owners, a Portillo's holding company, plan to do this time around.
It leads me to think that maybe the name of the place should be "Honey Not Jamming."
We'd certainly prefer to see it open. This has been an excellent place to have breakfast when it is up and running.
Still taking toys:
Many of the holiday toy drives at area business locations are complete at this point, but Sweet Natalie's Gluten Free Bakery at 228 S. Third St. in Geneva is still taking unwrapped toys through Dec. 15.
The toy drive is to benefit kids at Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital.
Clueless on 'Gilmore':
This one did catch me off guard a bit.
When spotting long lines of people at the Graham's 318 Coffeehouse on Black Friday in downtown Geneva, I figured maybe some coffee or chocolate was on sale.
But then many of those in line would suddenly cheer.
Turns out, more than 3,000 fans of the "Gilmore Girls" TV show were on hand to participate in trivia about the show, an auction for a season two script, and also enjoy a re-creation of "Stars Hollow" turning into an autumn festival.
In the meantime, those waiting in line had a chance to donate canned goods to the Salvation Army, which also received $900 from the auction.
It all explains why I was clueless. Everything I have ever known about "Gilmore Girls" is pretty much in the paragraphs above.