“This is our Platinum Year, and we raised more than ever before with over $7,000 to give the O’Fallon Food Pantry,” Roy Carlson, chairman for the Food Pantry fundraiser event, said.
Twenty years in the making, the fundraiser has taken its own shape, the Food Pantry Pete MacLaughlin Memorial Golf Scramble keeps reeping rewards and giving 100 percent back to its cause — to help O’Fallon, Shiloh community members in need keep food on the table.
“This is such a wonderful event, and now, during the summer, when kids are out of school, is the best time for us to receive donations,” Patty Strube, Food Pantry volunteer, said.
Carlson said the Food Pantry has been “a key part of our community” for 24 years and running since its inception in 1992 at the Faith Lutheran Church before moving its location to the current township building in 2007.
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The tournament is named in memory of Pete MacLaughlin, a member of Faith Lutheran Church, who was instrumental in starting the golf event to benefit the Food Pantry back in 1996, Carlson said.
“There are people in the community that need help, and organizations and all kinds of civic and charitable organizations are always looking to help the community and the pantry is one that does benefit the community and we are happy to be recipients of however they stir up their cause,” Strube said.
After many years, Strube and over 60 other volunteers and workers come together to serve a need in the community — one that Strube said continues to climb.
“We are so lucky to have as many helpers as we can get, and more is always welcome,” Strube said. “We serve over 300 families, which equates to between 900 to 1,100 individuals monthly.”
Many businesses like O’Fallon’s Wood Bakery and Sweet Katie Bee’s, Schnuck’s (O’Fallon and Fairview Heights locations), Little Ceasar’s, Aldi’s, Russel Stovers, local dentist, chiropractor and doctor offices, churches, civic and charitable organizations, pharmacies and more donate goods all the time, Strube said.
“It’s interesting who we get calls from sometimes that we may not have expected, but we sure are grateful recipients,” she said. “We even have had families bring in donations from thier children’s birthday parties where the child asked not to receive gifts but rather food for donation — pretty amazing, so lots of people and places touch us.”
Not to mention the hundreds of pounds of fresh edibles like vegetables and fruits coming directly from the O’Fallon Community Garden by volunteers, master gardeners and Rotary members, at the corner of Smiley and State Streets, every summer, but not everything can grow outdoors, which leaves Food Pantry workers tasked with shopping for other perishables, non-perishables, housewares and hygiene products.
The Food Pantry workers do shopping on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, according to Strube.
“Last week we spent $679 on Wednesday and $1,005 on Thursday, and tomorrow (Saturday) we will spend around $800 on more items,” Strube said.
Hours of operation are Monday, 9 a.m.-noon; Tuesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; and, Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
O’Fallonite Ron Dormer spends much of his time volunteering at the Food Pantry.
“This is a very busy time for us,” Dormer said, as he added up one week’s worth of shopping costs totaling just over $2,400.
With kids out of school, it can be challenging for low income families to take on the extra cost of multiple additional meals that normally are served at a discounted rate at the local public schools, Dormer said.
“We try to close the gap,” Dormer said.
Food Pantry Board President John Clatanoff said the generosity of volunteers, local businesses sponsoring and participating and donations continue to keep the small facility’s doors open, adjoining the Township Senior Center, both under the O’Fallon Township Building roof at 801 East State Street.
“We welcome donations of all kinds from any organizations. Getting the word out is half the battle,” Clatanoff said.
Clatanoff described the thousands of dollars raised by the four-person scramble golf tourney as “truly nothing short of magnificent.”
“Another wonderful example of the generosity of the community and the Thrivent golf tournament,” Clatanoff said.
“With all of the efforts and hard work of so many of our voluntreers, and churches, civic and charitable organizations, clubs, businesses and individuals who come out to help carry and sustain us throughout the year. It allows us to do that and more for others who need the extra help. I’m really touched,” he said.
Sponsored by voluntary contributions, as well as food drives by the Boy Scouts of America, Postal Workers and various clubs at the O’Fallon Township High School (OTHS), civic groups and businesses, the Food Pantry is a revolving door of goodwill, Carlson said.
“Our golf tournaments have contributed over $145,000 to the Food Pantry in the past 20 years,” he said.
The annual event took place this year Sunday, May 22 at The Hills Golf Club at McKendree University in Lebanon with 56 business sponsors, 38 prize packages and 15 teams of four.
“This is the first year we had ‘levels of giving,’ and I think it really helped bring in more sponsors by giving businesses and individuals options of donating $50, $100 or $200,” Carlson said.
For more information call 632-7040.