Urgent need leads to new, earlier date for MLK Food Drive in Elgin
The 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Food Drive has undergone a few changes this year, not the least of which is that it's not on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
With extra stress on local food pantries from the pandemic, organizers moved the event from its traditional date in January to this Saturday, Oct. 24.
The food drive will now be a food drive-in, as donations will be accepted in the parking lot of the Gail Borden Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those donating items won't need to have direct contact with food drive organizers -- they will simply drive up and pop their trunk, and a volunteer will take the donations.
Joe Wars, chairman of the event, said pressure on local food banks precipitated the date change.
"We didn't want to wait until January, because God knows what the situation is going to be in January," Wars said. "We thought that with the number of people that are unemployed and with the kids doing school from home and then the holidays coming up, food pantries are really under pressure."
Suggested items to donate include peanut butter and jelly, canned tuna, macaroni and cheese, pasta, beans and rice, canned fruit, cereal, pancake mix and syrup, and canned vegetables. Cash donations also are encouraged. Wars said that for every dollar donated, a food bank can buy eight pounds of food.
"I know people like donating cans and we appreciate it, but a couple of bucks can really go a long way," he said.
The food drive is organized by the City of Elgin's Human Relations Commission. Donations will help supply several area food pantries, including Elgin Crisis Center, Food for Greater Elgin, All Peoples Interfaith Food Pantry, Westside Church of Christ, Centro de Información, the Salvation Army of Elgin, Bethesda Church and Hanover Township Food Pantry.
Wars said he doesn't know how the changes will affect their collection.
"We could end up standing around telling jokes for four hours, or it could be one car after the other, you know, we really don't know exactly what to expect," he said.
"But what we do know is even if we only get one can of food, it will go to somebody who really needs it."