Share The Joy: Crystal Lake Food Pantry serves more than 1M meals each year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In McHenry and Lake County, Illinois, more than 65,000 people are food insecure.

Volunteers across those counties are using their passion for giving back to keep operations up and running at local pantries.

At the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, volunteers are serving more than a million meals to their neighbors every year, making sure no one goes without.

"At one time I pictured myself as that family coming in," Marilyn Georgy said.

Volunteers like Georgy donate their time every week at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.

"You know when I first started volunteering here there was a sense of belonging, that this was my purpose," Georgy said. "This is what I was raised to do or God gave me the challenge to try to do....This is a place you can come for help and hope and a hug that's why I continue to do this."

"I'm a volunteer, Marilyn is a volunteer and we all give of our time and our energy to make sure we can put the food on the shelves and make sure that what is being put out here is good quality food and its readily available for those who need us," said Bill Eich, volunteer president.

Part of that time and energy goes to giving shoppers a unique experience, from stocking shelves with fresh and local produce to volunteers on hand to help navigate the store.

The most unique option of all: tasting food made straight from the shelves in the inspiration kitchen, giving shoppers healthy recipes to take home.

"For most of them it's very hard for them to ask for help and stepping over the threshold for the first time is very, very difficult," said Scott Jewitt, of Northern Illinois Food Bank. "Most of them have this perceived notion of what it is going to look like and most of them are pleasantly surprised when they come through the doors of places like Crystal Lake Food Pantry, they are really surprised."

There is still time to help your neighbor in need through our "Share the Joy" virtual food drive. We have partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank Greater Chicago Food Depository to give families a helping hand.
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