Breaking spring-break norms: Florida collegians volunteer at Aurora food pantry
Kevin Krienitz of Aurora came home from Florida for a different spring break.
On March 6, the 2016 Plainfield East High School alum was among eight college students from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., who volunteered at a public drive-through food distribution.
Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry held its fourth biweekly 2021 distribution that Saturday at Austin Park In Montgomery, attracting 176 families, including 409 children.
Krienitz is a senior practical ministry major at Southeastern, a private liberal arts university in central Florida. He joined seven SU peers who loaded bags of food and backpacks into patrons' vehicles.
For the first time, 40 age- and gender-appropriate filled backpacks were donated by Family Focus Aurora, a social-service nonprofit that promotes well-being of children. Backpacks included socks, toys, crayons and coloring books.
In addition to the Aurora pantry, event partners were Fox Valley Park District, Calvary Church of Naperville and Blessings in a Backpack of Chicago.
Rebecca "Becky" Dunnigan, Interfaith Pantry community outreach and program coordinator, announced the next pop-up distribution will be held Saturday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to noon at Prairie Point Community Park, 4120 Plainfield Road in Oswego.
The public is invited. Food for 200 patrons will be available on a first-come basis. Registration is not required.
Foods to be distributed are granola bars, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, eggs, ground beef, cereal, applesauce, apple juice and Skillet box dinners.
In addition to Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, partners are Calvary Church of Naperville, Fox Valley Park District and a new partner, Blessings in a Backpack.
In a Friday, March 5, Fox 32 TV interview on Zoom, Dunnigan previewed the Montgomery distribution and discussed area hunger needs.
Assisting Dunnigan in the drive-thrus is Rev. Kyle Dern, Calvary outreach pastor, who drives a church truck that transports food to distribution sites. About 10 Calvary congregants and food pantry volunteers load food bags into visitors' vehicles under pandemic protocols.
Dunnigan explained, "These Pop Ups have items specifically for children. We plan to schedule these Kids' Pop-Ups twice a month."
Future pop-ups, she noted, may include school supplies for remote and in-person learning, shampoo, soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, mittens, hats, scarfs, game, costumed characters and dental exams on site.
Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry launched the pop-ups in January.
Call (630) 692-3061 or visit aurorafoodpantry.org for more information.