Elk Grove senior hits catwalk for benefit
Elk Grove High School student, Jessica Land, maintains an active schedule, but she always finds time to volunteer with the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines.
Nearly every Saturday morning, Land greets clients and assists them with selections from the food pantry and its clothing closet. It was a volunteer role she started with her grandfather, and now she carries on without him.
Earlier this month, she took time off, however, to model fashions for the agency's second annual fashion show fundraiser.
This was the second year for the event, and it drew a capacity crowd of 250 guests. They enjoyed dinner at the Casa Royale in Des Plaines, before seeing fall fashions from Coldwater Creek in Deer Park, and Carson, Pirie, Scott, in Mount Prospect.
Land was the youngest model on the runway, but she joined other volunteers in modeling casual clothes, sportswear and evening gowns.
Donna Hoffman of Des Plaines and Patty O'Brien of Mount Prospect co-chaired the event, drawing from their years working together on the "Hearts for the Homeless" event for Catholic Charities.
"There's a real need to raise money for the pantry, when donations are down," Hoffman says.
With the success of the fashion show, they raised $13,000, Hoffman says, giving them a substantial amount to draw from to keep shelves stocked.
"We think it's fantastic, considering it was just a $35 ticket price," Hoffman says. "Most of that was raised through raffle tickets and silent auction items, all donated by local merchants."
Typically, the pantry serves more than 800 people each month, but this year they are seeing an increased need. Already, they have registered 25 new families, Hoffman says.
Debbie Walusiak of Des Plaines serves as director of the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry. What began in 1971 as an outreach by women at the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, now draws widespread support across the city.
"It started in the church basement," Walusiak says. "The name was selected because the women wanted it to help migrant families better themselves, and it just stuck."
To make a donation, look for the so-called red barrels positioned at many Des Plaines businesses, city hall, grocery stores, schools and library, as well as jars for loose change area restaurants.