Volunteer at Northern Illinois Food Bank to help feed thousands facing hunger every day

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Every week, south suburban community members are busy volunteering at one of four Northern Illinois Food Bank's distribution centers, making sure no one goes hungry.

It takes a lot of helping hands to keep the recently opened Northern Illinois Food Bank's South Suburban Center in Joliet running.

"We have volunteers pack foods, sort, relabel cans, getting fresh produce into family size bags, making it more easy for them to take home with them," said Liz Gartman, Northern Illinois Food Bank Communications Manager.

The center serves Will, Grundy, Kendall and Kankakee counties, where more than 113,000 neighbors are facing hunger every day.

"In this country, nobody should go hungry. This right here feeds about 35 food banks in this general area. That feeds another bunch," said Ken Alling, a volunteer.

Alling and his wife, Lynda, were one of the first volunteers to walk through the doors when the center opened last May. Aside from feeling good about what they do, they enjoy it too.

"We know the regulars. We joke around. It is a production line, but you get to know the people," Lynda Alling said.

Volunteers are needed year-round, but the holidays are the busiest time of year.

"It's only a two-hour shift. It's not hard work. It's busy hands. When you package the food, you're thinking about those people," Lynda Alling said.

"I just believe that if you can help people, you should. So ever since that first visit, I decided that's what I wanted to do on a regular basis, and that when I retired I wanted to even more. So, I'm living the dream," said Carol Ferguson, a volunteer.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank are partners in ABC7's "Share the Joy" campaign.
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