Neighbors Are Truly Helping Neighbors in Wheeling Township
Wheeling Township exemplified its motto "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" more than ever in 2020.
Communitywide support was evidenced by outpourings of generosity from residents, businesses, and organizations, as well as through the township staff's dedication to providing key services for residents.
"The residents of this community have always demonstrated dedication to one another through donations of food, money and time," said Wheeling Township Supervisor Kathleen Penner.
"In 2020 -- with all of us commonly experiencing an ever-evolving pandemic -- people in this community shone even brighter."
Examples of giving included whole neighborhoods that collected food for the food pantry, to donations of gift cards for neighbors in need over the holidays.
"Residents affirmed their belief in the betterment of mankind through helping others. I'm equally impressed by our dedicated staff that continued to provide help and assistance for our residents throughout the pandemic," Penner said.
While some of the yearly services provided by the township had to either be curtailed or adapted in 2020, key services such as the Food Pantry, General Assistance, Transportation, and Home Delivered Meals all persevered and are still going strong.
Donations to the Wheeling Township Emergency Fund, Inc., were up substantially, matched only by the significant increase of individuals donating to the food pantry. Ordinarily, food drives are hosted by schools and organizations during the year, but due to COVID-19, those types of events did not take place.
"To see whole neighborhoods band together and hold their own collections was truly inspiring," Penner added. "We say thank you to them and to our remarkable volunteers, all of whom continued to go out of their way to ensure others didn't go without."
The following examples are some of the ways that residents provided help or received assistance in 2020:
• Food Pantry: There were 11,796 people fed, which included nearly 3,000 children younger than 18. During the initial shutdown, the food pantry model shifted from Client Choice (e.g. residents shop for food items) to giving out pre-packed bags of food. This enabled the township to assist existing clients, as well as residents who had not previously utilized the food pantry. By early fall, it moved to a hybrid model, allowing clients to fill out a premade shopping list fulfilled by township staff and volunteers.
• Home Delivered Meals Program: In all, 11,731 hot, freshly-prepared meals were delivered to some of the most vulnerable residents, including homebound seniors and permanently disabled individuals. There were 350 volunteers and 25 churches who remained actively involved in meal delivery five days a week all year long.
• Giving Garden: Residents with green thumbs donated fresh homegrown produce to the food pantry. These donations supplemented shelf-stable products for recipients.
• Thanksgiving: A holiday meal was provided to 354 lower income families. Hundreds of residents and community groups donated baskets with everything from gift cards, to rolls, stuffing, potatoes and dessert.
• Adopt-A-Family: Although the Adopt-A-Family program had to be adapted to reduce potential exposures, donors still came through in a big way. There were 232 families served, including 618 children who received gift cards to Walmart, Kohl's or Target. These items were donated by civic/church groups and businesses.
Wheeling Township's board and employees are indebted to the residents who, even in the middle of unprecedented times, remained dedicated to ensuring fellow citizens had access to food, holiday items and other compassionate services.
The township thanks all the volunteers who selflessly assisted in the food pantry, delivered fresh meals to homebound residents or helped with Medicare assistance for seniors. Their steadfast commitment to helping their neighbors is truly commendable.
Wheeling Township remains focused on helping its neighbors in need. Residents are encouraged to call to learn more about available services.
Through its dedication to providing services to residents, whether by helping them maintain their independence, sustain their health, or by offering critical assistance during times of need, Wheeling Township continues to make a significant difference in the community.
For information, contact Wheeling Township at (847) 259-7730 or visit wheelingtownship.com.
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