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Lions Club, teens team up to help feed hungry

Grayslake Central High School students load up truck with food go food pantry. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Grayslake Central High School students load up a truck with food to go to a food pantry. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 8, 2013 1:15AM

Grayslake Central High School students worked alongside Grayslake Lions Club members on Saturday to pack and deliver food baskets to more than 170 families.

Turkeys were the stars of the baskets, which were joined by a chorus of potatoes, apples, and milk. Accompanied were boxes of assorted non-perishables, courtesy of students who collected more than 53,000 pounds of food, far exceeding their goal.

This year, the need to help people enjoy a festive feast and calm the pangs felt by unemployment and dwindling incomes, was greater than ever before, said longtime Lions member Don Dietz.

“I remember when it started at least 25 years ago,” said Dietz, of Grayslake. “There weren’t many families we gave to then — maybe 45 or 50. It grows every year, and the reason is, times get tough.” The largest increase happened in 2005, and the recipients have increased steadily since, he said.

Don’s wife, Mary, a Lion for a dozen years who will be inducted as club president this week, helped organize and print delivery-route maps for the event. But she credits the teens with sorting food, loading trucks, and helping to make the deliveries to recipient families in Grayslake, parts of Round Lake, Lake Villa, and Hainesville.

“The students are wonderful, and they’re great workers. And of course, they collected thousands and thousands of pounds of food for this,” she said. “Without the students, we wouldn’t have much to give. Now, people will be able to have a nice Christmas dinner.”

Local businesses contributed, including Grayslake Feed Sales which donated nearly a ton of potatoes. And in sort of a last hurrah, Piggly Wiggly of Grayslake which will be closing its doors this month, once again sold the turkeys, apples and milk to the club at a discount.

A Skokie company donated 600 empty boxes.

History teacher and student council sponsor Adrijana Bisevac said student council members and Public Service Practicum students began their food drive last month.

The food drive is near and dear to her heart, as Bisevac, a 2003 graduate of the school, participated in the food drive herself as a student.

“Without the help of the community, staff and students, we could not do this year after year,” said Bisevac. “I think for a lot of students it’s an eye-opener. They don’t usually see the need that’s out there in the community. (The students) are so selfless and giving. It’s like a badge of honor for them.”

For four years, student council president Jack York has been participating in the event. “I enjoy collecting the food, and especially seeing the smiles on people’s faces when we deliver the baskets,” said York, a senior at Grayslake Central. “Hopefully, they’ll have enough (food) for a while.”

Nella Sanders, a national honor society member, and also a senior, said it was her first time participating in the event. “It was definitely very rewarding, and it meant a lot to me to be able to do this. I was proud and surprised at how much food we collected,” she said.

After the baskets were delivered, surplus food was trucked to the Avon Township Food Pantry and Plan Food Pantry in Round Lake Beach.

Afterwards students were treated to a breakfast buffet at the Whitney Street restaurant in Grayslake, courtesy of the Lions Club.

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