Nov. 12, 2013
By Jocelyn Serranilla
NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Holiday cheer came early to Chicagoland's poor and needy as Northwestern student-athletes and Athletics Department staff helped distribute 80,000 lbs. of chicken to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries on Saturday, Nov. 9.
"It's great to be here, great to see student-athletes giving support to families this holiday season and give back to those who are less fortunate. We're feeding some folks," football head coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Players from football, softball and women's soccer teams along with Athletics staff gathered at Sunset Foods supermarket parking lot in Northbrook as early as 7 a.m. ready to disperse 2,000 boxes of frozen chicken. Each box weighed 40 pounds and needed to be loaded in trucks, vans and cars of more than 70 charitable organizations that feed the hungry.
"We are so grateful they come out every year. We are just so appreciative of the student-athletes from Northwestern who came out today to help. I don't know what we would do without them. Those are 40-lb. boxes!" Lynn Fetta, a volunteer for non-profit Hunger Resource Network said on her appreciation for the Wildcats.
The student-athletes were likewise grateful for the opportunity to serve. C.J. Robbins of the football team said, "It's always good to give back to the community with the little extra time we have to ourselves and to help other people out."
Malin Jones, Deonte Gibson, Geoff Mogus and Max Chapman, who are enjoying a bye week from football, agreed. "I'm pretty excited to be here and hang out with other sports and be with Northwestern family," said Chapman.
Freshmen softball players Krista Williams and Nicole Bond warmed up to the task quickly.
"It's fun to give back to the community and help out," said Williams while Bond added, "It's awesome to be here with my teammates and contribute to the community and make it a better place for everyone."
The task appeared enormous at first, with two 18-wheeler trucks loaded with 2,000 boxes of frozen chicken waiting to be unloaded. Hunger Resource Network, a local non-profit dedicated to alleviation of poverty in the Chicagoland area, organized the community outreach.
Volunteers used forklifts to unload the boxes from the trailers, then stacked five-foot high on wooden palettes on the north end of the grocery parking lot. From there, volunteers had to manually carry and load each 40-lb. box into waiting vehicles sent by various charitable organizations. Salvation Army sent four trucks to haul the frozen chicken leg quarters. They were headed to deliver in Evanston, Waukegan, St. Charles and Aurora. Lakeview Pantry's van pulled up next, then St. Nicholas food pantry's van, until the last of the more than 70 vehicles pulled up to haul boxes of frozen chicken.
Volunteers from local churches and the Northbrook Fire Department were should-to-shoulder with the Wildcats loading the vehicles with boxes of frozen chicken. What was originally planned for three hours of manual labor was accomplished in two hours, with the last trailer hauling the boxes a little past 9 a.m.
The sign on the truck of Food for Greater Elgin summed up the work of the day, "Where hungry hearts meet helping hands."
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