Volunteers deliver food as HCS is closed
Last updated 3/26/2020 at 12:21am | View PDF
HCS Family Services has been closed for almost a week, but that doesn’t mean families aren’t receiving the groceries they need.
An employee who had worked closely with a number of volunteers and other staff went home with flu symptoms March 19, Stan Cook, executive director, said Tuesday.
“We told everybody at that time to wrap up what they were doing and go home,” Cook said. “That was the trigger that caused the difficult decision to close down.”
Staff members will spend at least 14 days working from home, with the office scheduled to re-open April 1. In the meantime, volunteers are making sure families can still pick up food.
HCS board Chairman Bob Lassandrello, board member Meg Pound, her friend Monica Toth and three high school students distributed prepackaged groceries to more than 60 families in Hinsdale Friday night.
Clients drove up the Circle Drive at the Memorial Building and volunteers placed the bags into their trunks.
In addition to dry goods, clients received hygiene kits with toothpaste, shampoo, hand cream, dish soap, dishwasher detergent pods and paper towels. They also received a product that’s been hard to come by for many — toilet paper.
The overwhelming feeling from clients was one of gratitude, Pound said.
“(They were) very, very grateful, lots of ‘God bless you,’ ” she said. “Of course we just chimed back, ‘Hey, we’re in this together. Go team!’ Because we are all in this together.”
This Friday, dry goods will be supplemented with frozen meat, milk, eggs and any produce that is still available.
People who visit the pantry typically are able to enter the building and choose their own groceries from the pantry shelves. That procedure was changed with the onset of COVID-19. Packing bags to suit clients’ tastes was a challenge, Pound said.
“Do they like peaches? What if they don’t like peaches?” she said. “We were really second-guessing ourselves.”
Cook said plans are in place to help keep the pantry from closing again after it re-opens. He plans to set up three teams of volunteers who will not have physical contact with each other.
“That’s going to protect us, because if a team falls ill, then Team B or Team C can step in and help take over their shifts,” Cook said. “That’s how we’re going to manage it in the midterm.”
The ill staff member has been advised to stay home and will not take a COVID-19 test, Cook said.
“In the interest of safety, we said we’re going to do the 14-day quarantine,” he explained.
“We will continue to serve our 24 local communities,” he said. “At this point we don’t want to be turning people away because it’s a period of great need.”
He and Pound said they’re thankful for the outpouring of support from the community. Pound said she hopes residents realize they don’t have to serve on the board or sign up to volunteer to help.
“We are the food pantry,” she said. “This village is the food pantry to the needy families in our area, and they are out there, for sure.
“Everybody can contribute in any way they see fit, but cash is king,” she added. “We’re in this together.”