Greater Chicago Food Depository volunteers pack donations for Ch - KMSP-TV

Greater Chicago Food Depository volunteers pack donations for Christmas

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Volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository Volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository
Cans and boxes of food at the Greater Chicago Food Depository Cans and boxes of food at the Greater Chicago Food Depository
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The spirit of giving this holiday season was working overtime this Christmas Eve at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository's massive warehouse on Chicago's Southwest Side holds millions of cans and boxes of food donated by companies and individuals. It requires a lot of help getting the supplies out the door and onto the plates of those who need it.

"What's happening right now behind me is they're sorting food donations from our 1 City, 1 Food Drive effort. FOX is a partner in that. The food is sorted in our warehouse. It's sorted by volunteers. Then it's shipped right back out into the community to our network of 650 programs, pantries, soup kitchens and shelters," said Paul Morello of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The numbers are astounding. It's a year-round operation that provides 66 million pounds of food, including 21 million pounds of fresh produce, to 860,000 men, women and children in Cook County.

This Christmas Eve, more than 70 volunteers helped out, including members of the Illinois State Youth Auxiliary.

"It's something to make everyone happy…I would like to help others," said volunteer Kadeesha Towers.

When asking another volunteer if they see hunger, their response was, "I see it all the time. I see it with homeless people and neighborhoods," said Ruth English.

Sandy Scheide and her family have been volunteering on Christmas Eve for years.

"My family, my husband and our three children are extremely blessed, and there are so many that are unfortunate out there, more so now than ever. And I just think it's something small we can do to make a difference," Sandy said.

Particular lines are packing supplies for Chicago Public School children. They have canned ravioli, some condensed soup, goldfish crackers, cereal, etc. The supplies are put into bags as they move down the line. Then bags are tied, put into boxes and sent to Chicago Public Schools where they're given to students who take them home after school.

"We absolutely do see demand growing, and that's contrary to what a lot of people think. A lot of people see the stock market going up, the economy getting better. But the fact of the matter is since 2008 we've seen a 68 percent increase in the number of visits to food pantries," said Morello.

And hunger doesn't just happen around the holidays. Volunteers and donations are needed year round.

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