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ShareFest 2013 an overwhelming success

Ten-year-old Maddie Szmergalski BrianStout 12 were part volunteer crew loading collected food onwagfor sorting transportatiOpen Arms MissiAntioch during ShareFest 2013

Ten-year-old Maddie Szmergalski and Briana Stout, 12, were part of the volunteer crew loading collected food onto a wagon for sorting and transportation to the Open Arms Mission in Antioch during ShareFest 2013 on Saturday morning. | JIM NEWTON~SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: December 6, 2013 2:34AM

About 250 volunteers fanned out across the Antioch area Saturday morning, dodging occasional showers to deliver thousands of pounds of food to a local shelter, paint fire hydrants in downtown Antioch, and assist hundreds of seniors with heavy household tasks.

ShareFest 2013 was the 10th annual service project sponsored by the Antioch-based NorthBridge Church. This year’s non-denominational event was also co-sponsored by Hope Community Church, which holds its Sunday services at Lakes High School in Lake Villa.

“It’s fun. It feels good,” said 9-year-old Leanna Corley of Antioch as she helped sort donated food at the Christian Life Fellowship Building on Deep Lake Road in Antioch.

It was also no small project. ShareFest has collected 120,000 pounds of non-perishable food for the Open Arms Mission in Antioch since its inception in 2004, and the goal for Saturday was an additional 25,000 pounds.

Volunteers were given bags the Saturday prior to the event and asked to collect specific items in various areas of Antioch and bring the items to ShareFest.

Other teams spent Saturday giving fire hydrants in Antioch a fresh coat of bright yellow paint and helping hundreds of seniors in the Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst area with household tasks such as raking, clearing gutters and cleaning.

“It’s just really about community. It’s a good way to way to join forces with other churches and serve the community,” said Kelly Weis of Antioch who, with her husband Steve, was helping to weigh and sort food for transportation to the mission.

“It’s a chance to serve others and serve God at the same time,” she said.

“We really want to be part of the community, and this is a good way to help without any strings attached,” said Diane Powers, one of the organizers of the event and a member of NorthBridge Church, which convenes at Antioch High School.

The event is usually based at the Antioch Bandshell, but was relocated to the Fellowship Building this year due to iffy weather. Although the work was not marred by heavy storms, crews painting fire hydrants had to take cover under shop awnings during occasional rainfalls.

The heavy-duty paint being used can stand up to the wet conditions said John Mohrbacher, a NorthBridge team leader for the event. “It has extra lacquer,” he said.

While celebrating their 10th anniversary Saturday, volunteers from area churches could look back on some impressive statistics, including providing assistance to 850 senior households, building and distributing more than 160 bunk beds, rebuilding the dilapidated one-room Grass Lake School for use as a kindergarten, food collection and its first project — construction of the boardwalk walkway for the William Brook Memorial Wetlands Area in Antioch.

“It’s a nice, lovely experience with other churches with no separation of denominations or anything,” Kelly Weis said.

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