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Project distributes 25,000 pounds of food to families in need
By Jessica Cilella | Daily Herald Staff

Carol Stream Village President Frank Saverino hands a box of food to Kevin Salat, 16, as the Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream distributes its last packages of food for the summer through its Feed the Kids program.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Jorge Acosta, 8, of Carol Stream, watches as volunteer Thomas Favale, 16, loads a box of nonperishable food into his family's car at a food warehouse for the Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream. The distribution was part of the organization's Feed the Kids program.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Volunteer Lizzette Melo-Benitez grabs a box of food to load into a car as the Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream distributes food through its Feed the Kids program on Wednesday.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/5/2010 12:01 AM

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Karole Kettering came across an article in Parade magazine sometime in 2004 titled "School's Out: Millions of Kids Face Hunger."

The story described struggles children who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year encounter each summer with a lack of food in their home.

"That really inspired me to think about 'How can I help?'" Kettering said Wednesday.

Already the founder of the Humanitarian Service Project, which began in 1979, Kettering came up with an idea to help those children and called it Feed the Kids. The program gives financially-strapped families with students about 250 pounds of food once a month during the summer. The food comes from Caputo's grocery store and the Northern Illinois Food Bank and is paid for through grants and donations.

Kettering started the program with 11 families. On Wednesday morning, though, more than 90 families lined their cars outside the organization's food storage center in Carol Stream, where they collectively received 25,000 pounds of food for the last time before school starts.

"I had no idea it was going to be this big," Kettering said. "We love that we're able to make that impact in their lives."

One glance at the dozens of passengers waiting to have produce, meats and non-perishables packed into their trunks offered a sobering message though: hunger doesn't discriminate.

"I know a lot of times people associate poverty with minorities, but it's not true anymore," said Carmen Castro, a volunteer from Glendale Heights. "There's a real mixture here."

"It's isn't just Caucasian or Mexican; we have Indian, we have African American," she said. "It kind of shows you what our community is about, what we are here in this region of DuPage County."

Tahany Sherbiny of Addison was one of the many visitors Wednesday.

"It's very good for me," the mother of three said. "It helps me a lot because my husband is sick and we need help. This food is fantastic."

Carol Stream resident Krystal Brown is another mother of three who left with a car full of food.

"I'm really excited and really happy," she said. "It's a little different every time. It helps out a lot and whatever I can't use I pass on to some of my friends who may not have stuff."

The families aren't the only people who benefit from the plentiful giving.

"I feel like I make a difference and I think that's what volunteering is all about - making someone's life a little bit better," Castro said. "We're all about treating everybody as if it could be us, because you don't know when it could be. If we're the only pleasant thing that happens to them today, then good for us."

Thomas Favale, 16, said he likes to volunteer for Feed the Kids because he feels sheltered to the needs people have when he learns about them at school.

"You fundraise and stuff but you never can really go firsthand and actually experience what it means to give back to these people in person," he said. "It just means so much more to actually hear them say thank you and see their expressions."

Carol Stream Village President Frank Saverino was among the volunteers helping move food from the warehouse to the cars.

"I'm really impressed with the whole operation," he said. "I've never seen something like this done before. It's like sending them to Jewel."

Over the years Kettering has seen everything from tears to heartwarming letters as a result of the monthly distribution.

"I'll never forget one woman who said, 'We're complete strangers. I don't even know you. Why would you reach out and help me?'" she said. "It's because it's the brotherhood of men and women, and we come together to help each other out."

Kettering's organization also has projects for senior citizens, kid's birthdays and Christmas.

"It shows the community pulling together," she said about the volunteers' willingness to help the needy. "It's a symbol of the interest and the concern for the difficulties that families are going through."