Monday, December 24, 2012

Feeding the Hungry? Splendid

Holiday Charitable Giving Donation #4
For quite some time now, one of my favorite parts of Christmas with my dad's side of the family has been the opportunity we take to give back.  When I was a kid, I remember Dad's family members (of which there are MANY; he's one of 9 kids) taking up a collection to donate to the roof renovation project at the church where they were raised.  Since the completion of the renovation project, we've changed our focus a bit.  In recent years, we have held a Wii bowling tournament.  Each player buys their spot for $5 and plays one game.  The top 4 bowlers advance to playoffs where they compete to win half the amount of money collected.  The other half the the money is donated to charity.  The first year of the tournament, we donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.  The tournament has evolved over the years, and now the winner gets to choose the charity that receives the funds.  Though the prize money has gone to other worthy causes over the years, I always push for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank is the primary food source for more than 220 food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other local programs working to feed the hungry in the area.  They support agencies in 14 Eastern Illinois counties.  In the course of the year, they will distribute more than 6 million pounds of food to those in need.  SIX MILLION pounds!

In addition to distributing food to local food pantries and soup kitchens, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank also has a backpack program called Healthy Futures.  This program provides a backpack of food to children likely to otherwise go hungry over the weekend.  Each backpack contains nonperishable food, as well as fruits and vegetables.  According to the EIF website, nearly 17% of children in America struggle with hunger, and Healthy Futures is one way to help alleviate that need.  They also have a Foodmobile program that distributes food in the more rural areas they serve. 

The EIF gladly accept donations of food, both on smaller personal scales and larger food drives put on by organizations.  However, for every $1 donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, they can purchase $10 of food from their sources!  It is incredible to think how many people the Foodbank can feed for such a small amount of my money.

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank website is a great resource full of ideas on how you can contribute.  Check out their page about food donation or make a monetary donation directly through their website.  They also need volunteers to help process and package bulk foods, help at soup kitchens, do office work, and other miscellaneous tasks.

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