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Those in need have a friend indeed at Love INC

Ki Wells Zilooks clothes for her 9 year old sLove INC. Mobile Clothing Closet located Grace Missionary Church Zion. The

Ki Wells of Zion looks at clothes for her 9 year old son at Love INC. Mobile Clothing Closet located at Grace Missionary Church in Zion. The Closing Closet serves 293 people from 70 families. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 1, 2013 6:01AM

For nearly two decades, Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Lake County has been helping people get back on their feet, more now than ever before.

Located at the Pearce Campus 1616 23rd Street in Zion, Love INC networks with local churches to help individuals and families get basic needs including clothing, furniture, transportation, and financial counseling services.

“We are a volunteer-run ministry, and without the churches and without the Christ followers from the churches, we don’t have a Love INC,” said executive director Carl “Spark” Ball.

Though there are many ways to help at Love INC, a big part is getting donations to assemble “starter kits” — essential household items for people transitioning into a home of their own. More than 220 starter kits were given out this year, double the amount from last year.

“The majority of these families and individuals are transitioning out of homelessness, and they basically don’t have anything. These would be the same things you’d want if you were getting your first apartment,” Bell said.

Donations for items in good condition like pots and pans, small appliances, dishes, blankets, bed sheets and new pillows are important, but so are things like towels.

“We try to give each family member their own set of towels, including wash cloths and bath towel,” said Ball. “These go really fast.” Beds and dressers are also needed in great quantity.

The executive director said the surge in need appears to be from two things: an increase in awareness and referrals to Love INC by various organizations who can’t handle the caseloads alone; and more people losing their homes to foreclosure.

“Some of them tell me they had to leave suddenly, and they left everything behind,” he said.

Other people who abandon their homes quickly were victims of abuse.

According to a recent Christmas letter sent out by Love INC of Lake County, 250 volunteers to date have donated more than 6,000 hours to serve more than 600 families and meet more than 900 different needs.

“They are all from local churches. They do everything from data entry, answering phones, processing intakes for client families, building starter kits, acting as board members — those areall volunteers,” said Ball.

In July, volunteer youth and adults spend one week in Zion repairing homes and building bunk beds for needy people during the Many Hands Project. Love INC provides the materials and the trucks for hauling. A local church provides a large banquet dinner for volunteers at the end of the mission.

Recently, a single, working mother without transportation was blessed through a gift from Love INC.

Faith Church in Grayslake donated funds to help purchase a car in need of repair.

After Love INC bought parts for the 1999 Ford Taurus, Ernie’s Auto Service in Zion fixed the car for free and got it ready to roll.

Moberg’s Automotive Repair in Libertyville also generously donates to help Love INC clients.

Last year, a donated KIA which needed work, was fixed through Love INC for a woman whose husband and son are both disabled.

Ball is concerned about the dwindling transportation fund, and is hopeful to build it back up in order to help others.

Through donations from Christ Church Lake Forest, and individuals, Love INC was able to purchase a delivery truck to add to its aging fleet. Most recently, Williams Ski & Patio of Highland Park donated another delivery truck to replace one which is on its last leg. “What a blessing. We are very excited,” said Ball.

To give donations of furniture and household items, please call Love INC at (847) 731-0526 to schedule an appointment for pickup. Ball asks for patience in scheduling a pickup.

Cash donations may be sent to Love INC. Lake County, P.O. Box 7796, Gurnee, IL 60031.

For more information, and a list of needed household goods, visit

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