Photo by Joe Boyle
Heather McCarthy (left), event coordinator and seventh-grade language arts teacher at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, visits one row of workers who were packaging the Feed6 Meals for those in need this holiday season.
The holiday season is a time for giving. Students, families, teachers and staff at Oak Lawn-Hometown School did just that recently by packaging foods to be distributed to the less fortunate.
The fourth annual Feed6 Meals Packaging event took place Dec. 17 in the gym at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, 5345 W. 99th St., Oak Lawn. More than 100 participants showed up that morning despite the cold weather. Participants included District 123 students, staff and alumni. The District 109 Student Council and the Oak Lawn Kiwanis were also in attendance to pack meals for the needy.
"It was amazing to see students, community members, and people from all different backgrounds coming together and working side by side to help others," said Heather McCarthy, event coordinator. “Last year, we had volunteers from age 6 to 86 working to support their community. It truly is a feel good event.”
McCarthy, an Oak Lawn resident who has been at the school since it opened 11 years ago, is currently the language arts teacher for seventh-grade students at OLHMS.
“This school is so active and gets involved in the community,” said McCarthy, who introduced the idea of holding the Feed6 Meal program at the school. “I saw this a few years ago at another school and I suggested it here. Everybody likes the idea.”
Feed6 currently organizes meal packaging events throughout the Midwest in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Volunteers come together to package nutritional meals of macaroni and cheese fortified with soy and vitamins. Organizers said that the program offers more nutritious food than popular brands available in the supermarket. Each plastic package is designed to feed six children. These meals are distributed locally through food banks to the hungry in local communities.
The volunteers lined up in rows to make the cheese and macaroni meals with soy and vitamins. The food was placed in packages that are labeled “Kids Care.” They were stamped by younger students. The volunteers, who included Dr. Paul Enderle, District 123 superintendent, worked at a steady pace for two hours preparing the food.
Students, families, teachers and staff were invited to come out to the event. Students worked to help cover the costs of the food, materials and delivery. Anyone who was interested had to raise a minimum of $20.
The fundraiser raised a total of $3,928.18 and during the event was able to package 14,000 meals. Last week began the distribution process. McCarthy and her team made deliveries to local food pantries, various shelters, and families in need.
“This is really great because this is usually a tough time of the year to get people to come out,” said McCarthy about the event held just before the holidays. “But we got great support. We had more people come out this year.”
Amanda Bencik, assistant principal at OLHMS, said the outpouring of support for the Feed6 meal program was gratifying.
“It a community thing,” said Bencik. “This is a community with heart. It just keeps growing.”