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Open Arms fund-raiser Nov. 11 in Antioch

Updated: December 29, 2012 1:43AM

ANTIOCH — Lake County Deputy Sheriff John “Bam Bam” Van Dien is sponsoring the fifth annual “Feed the Hungry” benefit to raise funds for the Open Arms Mission Food Pantry.

The benefit will be held Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Steve’s Sports Bar, 26029 W. Route 173 in Antioch. A $5 donation will be taken at the door.

A deputy sheriff for more than 25 years, Van Dien said his job inspires him to give back to the community he serves. Over the years, Van Dien, known on the street as “Bam Bam,” has always been one who “lives as a Christian” he says. “I don’t do Christian sound bites, then forget those in need when the microphone goes away.”

He adds: “In my job, I have to make some difficult choices. There have been times when I’ve been called to a home and had to arrest a mom or a dad. It makes it worse when I see there is nothing in the refrigerator. As a father, that breaks my heart. I think most people who I’ve encountered know I’m doing my job the best I know how. But it doesn’t make it easier.

“In the past five years I’ve been doing this, people have always been in need, but now more than ever, people need our help,” he said. “Last year, a lady I had come in contact with in the past came to the benefit with her three children. She asked for me by name, and when I came up she told me they didn’t have any money or food. They were my guests, and I think they had a good time, too!”

The food pantry, staffed by volunteers, provides food to needy Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst residents every week. Donations are needed to purchase food boxes that will be distributed during the holidays, in addition to weekly food allocations.

“The timing is perfect for this fund-raiser because every dollar will go toward holiday food boxes. The holidays are a time when our families are most challenged,” said OAM Food Pantry Executive Director Marytherese Ambacher.

Anyone who would like to donate a prize can drop it off at Steve’s Sports Bar before the event.

Van Dien said 100 percent of the proceeds from the event will go to Open Arms Mission Food Pantry, 1548 S. Main St., Antioch. Tickets are available in advance at the sports bar, from food-pantry volunteers and at Open Arms Mission.

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