Alpine Chapel’s Food Pantry, REACH (Resources & Enrichment – Alpine Chapel’s Harvest) began by serving about 10 families with a few boxes of food items donated from the local Jewel. Over the years, it has grown and now every Saturday one will find Alpine Chapel’s gym lined with more than 30 tables and carts packed with meat, milk, produce, canned goods, and numerous other food and non-food items that have been purchased or donated from more than 10 local stores and agencies. REACH food pantry currently serves at least 110 families every week and continues to grow.
The REACH pantry and its committed and compassionate volunteers impact families in a variety of ways. Not only are we able to support people by providing them a variety of food and sustenance every week, but we also offer prayers and other important and necessary resources for those experiencing medical, personal, and many other crisis’ in their lives. During the holiday season, families can shop at the pantry for their turkey and all the fixings and Alpine families adopt hundreds of REACH children and provide Christmas gifts to brighten the season for their families. Sometimes the most important things we do are simply to give someone a hug, an empathetic ear to listen, or a smiling face to see. The comradery, care, and compassion shown between and amongst volunteers and the families truly exhibit God at work.
A heartwarming first-hand experience is recounted below by Nanci Tobal, a long-time REACH food pantry recipient and volunteer.
“In 2009, my family lived in Mundelein. My husband had an accident and severely injured his hand. He could no longer work. I heard about Alpine Chapel’s food pantry from other families in my children’s school who had been to the food pantry. I would sometimes go to get food for our family whenever I could get a ride to the pantry. At that time, the food pantry was in a small church office in Lake Zurich. The pantry was very small but it still made a big difference in our lives and provided us the food that we desperately needed.
For years, my husband had struggled with alcoholism and was abusive. After his injury, these behaviors became worse – he was more and more aggressive and abusive to me and the children. In 2012, things became so difficult that it was unsafe for me and my 3 small children. I had no car, no job, no family, no bank account, and no support. I was alone – I was desperate and I didn’t know how I was going to make it or how I would take care of my family. I prayed every night for God to help me. And I learned to take every day – just one day at a time.
I had made a connection with a few people at Alpine and they helped me start over. Alpine Chapel, its staff, its food pantry and volunteers were my lifeline. They were there for me as I had to do things that I had never had to do before. They helped me to put food on the table every day, provided some money for bills, helped me get insulin for my daughter, gave me rides to court, fixed my furnace and replaced my broken water heater. This all helped me to get back on my feet. I never could have done it without them.
In the summer of 2013, I finally was able to get a car, and since then, my passion became to volunteer. The REACH Food Pantry has given me the wonderful opportunity to give back to my community. And I can do this all while helping families like my own. I help as much as I can every Saturday, while also being helped myself. I am very thankful and appreciative for those who dedicate themselves to volunteering and taking time out of their day to help families like my own. It’s amazing how just a couple of hours a week can help better the lives of others. I personally love the food pantry because it has allowed me to realize the love I have for volunteering. It feeds my family, the families of others, and helps the community and individuals by their kindness. It gives low income households the opportunity to eat without stressing about how they’re paying for their next meal, and allows them to spend more money on their medical needs, living situation, etc. I have built many friendships because of the food pantry over the past years. Friendships with not only other volunteers but those who go in needing help as well. And the smiles we see on the faces of others, is what keeps me waking up every Saturday excited to keep changing people’s lives.”
You too, can become part of this wonderful and impactful ministry. The REACH food pantry runs out of Alpine Chapel’s gym, every Saturday morning, beginning around 8:30 a.m. until noon. Volunteer help is also needed on other days of the week to pick-up donated food, inspect and stock the pantry shelves, and to set-up for the Saturday pantry. It is truly so humbling and rewarding to make such a difference in the lives of so many. As a REACH volunteer, we receive so much more than we give. We would love for you to join us!! Please contact Sue McCabe for more information or donate at www.aclz.org/give.