Wheeling Township Thanks Local Community for a Year of Giving
Wheeling Township's motto, "Neighbors Helping Neighbors," is more than just a saying; it's a mission that is fulfilled on a yearly basis through an abundance of services and programs available to Township residents. In addition to assisting those in need - including seniors, the disabled, and residents experiencing financial challenges - there are also opportunities for residents to give back through donations and volunteerism, and hundreds get involved each year.
"We are thankful for our many donors and volunteers, for another year of their generosity," said Wheeling Township Supervisor Kathy Penner. "Their time and donations are perfect examples of our motto, "Neighbors Helping Neighbors."
Some of the many Township programs and services that benefitted local residents during 2018 were also on the receiving end of residents' generosity.
Wheeling Township's Food Pantry, which helped to feed 10,454 people in 2018, received substantial monthly donations from private citizens, businesses and organizations, including the man who donated dozens of eggs and packages of cheese on a bi-weekly basis, and several Scout Troops which held food drives to benefit the Food Pantry. As for volunteers, the Township's Food Pantry "crew" of 46 dedicated more than 4,059 hours of time to ensuring the pantry was fully stocked, staffed and organized.
"Their dedication to serving those in need in our community is legendary here," Penner said. "We wouldn't be able to help as many people as we do, without them."
The Township's home-delivered meal program (known as Meals on Wheels) delivered 12,441 hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors and permanently disabled individuals in the community in 2018 -- all delivered by volunteers. More than 300 volunteers were involved in the delivery of the fresh meals, five days a week, including on holidays. Twenty-five different churches throughout the community also participated by taking one delivery route for a month.
Other programs that donors and volunteers helped to make possible included the Ready 4 Success school supply program, where 241 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated and distributed to children living in the Township. The Thanksgiving food basket program provided 264 families with the ability to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to the residents and community groups who donated hundreds of baskets filled with everything from rolls and stuffing to potatoes and dessert. Hundreds of donated gift cards, along with many frozen turkeys, were also distributed.
At Christmas, through the incredible generosity of local individuals, community groups and businesses who were provided with the wish lists of families in need, the Township's "Adopt A Family" program was able to successfully provide holiday joy for 245 families. Each adopted family received wrapped gifts, and in many cases, donated gift cards, as part of their holiday package. Children in these families also received hats, scarves, mittens and new books that were donated by the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and the Indian Trails District Library.
The annual November donation drive to support our military personnel was more successful than in previous years. The Township collected snacks, personal items, financial contributions and cards/letters, which were then delivered to active military personnel via Operation Support Our Troops, a local nonprofit organization. In 2018, 1,407 pounds of snacks and personal items were donated by local Township residents, and monetary donations also doubled from the previous year to $3,000. More than 1,000 handwritten cards, letters and drawings were also donated, including 25 hand-crafted "Thank you for your service" cards from a 12-year-old Buffalo Grove student who told the Township that it "was just the right thing to do."
The Township's SHIP (Senior Health Insurance Program) volunteers provided assistance to more than 650 residents in 2018, helping them with everything from signing up for Medicare, filing Medicare appeals, and assisting them with applying for Benefits Access. During the Open Enrollment period, Wheeling Township's SHIP counselors worked with 400 seniors as they chose their 2019 Part D drug plans. Their guidance helped seniors served by the Township save thousands of dollars on their plans.
Through the dedication of AARP volunteers, more than 350 seniors were provided with free tax assistance and tax preparation at Wheeling Township in 2018. Volunteers for the Illinois Secretary of State provided free 'Rules of the Road' classes for 150 seniors. Speakers who volunteered their time and areas of specialty provided free educational presentations on subjects ranging from obtaining VA benefits to maintaining balance to nearly 400 residents.
Caring donors gave many homemade knitted blankets for homebound seniors. Local schoolchildren made more than 1,000 holiday-themed projects for low-income seniors, permanently disabled residents and home delivered meal recipients. The Prospect Heights Garden Club, several churches and Home Instead Northbrook all donated projects, gifts or gift bags for distribution to homebound seniors.
"Residents' generosity never ceases to amaze all of us at Wheeling Township," Penner said.
Wheeling Township is indebted to all of the people living in Wheeling Township who remain focused on consistently helping their neighbors in need - in 2018, and every year. For more information on any of the many programs and services Wheeling Township offers, please contact the Township at 847-259-7730 or visit wheelingtownship.com.