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More than $7,800 donated to FISH pantry for new van

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 10:32 a.m. CDT
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Alan Chandler (left), of Downers Grove, and Dan Olipra, of Clarendon Hills, unload donations for the FISH food pantry from the pantry's old cargo van. The van is in need of repairs and volunteers are hoping someone can help out this holiday season. Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com

DOWNERS GROVE – What started with a $10 bill donated in a gas station parking lot has snowballed into more than $7,820 given to FISH Food Pantries toward a new van in the last month.

The $10 donor read a Dec. 25 Downers Grove Suburban Life story about the organization’s need for a new van and stopped one of the volunteer drivers in a parking lot the next day to give his gift.

Several days later, volunteers received a $1,000 check from another donor who had read the story and included the clipping in the envelope, volunteer June Miller said.

The latest big gifts were a $3,000 anonymous check and a $1,000 gift from a local church. FISH has now set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the van fund, and donations are tax deductible.

Checks can be made out to Downers Grove Area FISH, 4340 Prince St., Downers Grove, IL 60515

“I want to say thank you to all the people who gave,” Miller said. “Some of them, we don’t even have their names. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Volunteers drive the van about 200 miles a week to area grocery stores, churches, schools and other food donors, hauling back hundreds of pounds of food to the pantry for distribution.

Unfortunately, the 1999 Ford has seen better days after accumulating about 114,000 miles of city driving.

“The bottom line is we need a van. We cannot operate without one,” Miller said last month.

The charity is making repairs necessary to keep it running, but it is clearly in need of a new – or at least newer – van.

Recent repairs have included a new starter, which died when volunteers were making a pick-up. FISH also had to replace the brakes, which went out while someone was driving the van. Other problems have gone unrepaired because of lack of funds.

FISH supports a regular clientele of 135 families with food, in addition to other community support.

FISH Food Pantry helps families from Downers Grove, Lisle and Darien with food. Families from Westmont and Woodridge can receive clothing and other help.

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