Over 100 volunteers package food at Feed6 program event

  • Written by Joe Boyle

heathers volunteers photo 12-22

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.”

Future of Evergreen Park Animal Hospital is uncertain

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The purchase of a real estate contract for the Evergreen Park Animal Hospital appeared to be a standard procedure during the Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on Dec. 19.

However, Dr. Roy Hubert, DVM, owner of the Evergreen Park Animal Hospital, said not so fast.

“We have not signed anything or made any agreements,” said Hubert. “The village approached us a couple of months ago. The mayor (Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton) asked us if we wanted to sell.”

That was news to Sexton, who appeared confused by Hubert’s response.

“As far as I know it is a done deal,” said Sexton. “Our attorney, Vince Cainkar, was going to talk to their attorney. It was just a matter of signing some papers. The only question was when he was going to shut down.”

The board approved the ordinance for the real estate contract for the purchase of the Evergreen Park Animal Hospital, 3000 W. 95th St., at a cost of $400,000. Sexton said the building will be demolished and the property will be used for parking for the Wu’s House Restaurant at 95th and Sacramento Avenue.

Hubert was not present at the board meeting that night. A couple of customers came in and asked when he was going to shutter his doors. He admitted to being taken aback by the questions and pointed out to his regular customers that he had no plans to close for good.

“I’m still open and we will continue to remain open,” said Hubert. “I’ve told the village that I want to remain open.”

That was music to the ears of Sexton, who later had a phone conversation with Hubert.

“The contract was signed at the meeting,” said Sexton. “We would not have done that if this was not a done deal.”

Hubert and his staff are required to be out of the animal hospital by July 1, according to the agreement. Hubert has indicated that he is looking at other properties, but he reiterates that he has not signed a contract.

“I’m not 100 percent sure I want to do this,” added Hubert. “We have several other animal hospitals a few minutes away from us. I just don’t want to make a decision in which we lose our business.”

The Evergreen Park Animal Hospital has been at its current location since the 1980s. Hubert’s animal hospital was once located at 98th and Western Avenue. The Plaza developers owned the land around the hospital and the village intervened to work out a deal with Hubert for the property.

Hubert said that his years of service for the Evergreen Park Animal Hospital dates back to 1969. The Evergreen Park Animal Hospital first opened in 1950.

Sexton said he had previously suggested to Hubert that he would assist in keeping his animal hospital in the village.

“Absolutely, we would like to have him remain here,” said Sexton. “They have been here a long time. I didn’t know if he wanted to go on. I’m glad that he wants to reopen and stay here.”

But Hubert said the village was a little hasty in their announcement at the last village board meeting.

“The village decided ahead of time before I signed any papers,” said Hubert on Tuesday “I agreed it was a fair price for the property, but I still haven’t decided yet.”

Winter dance at Moraine raises money for American Cancer Society

  • Written by Michelle Zalesny

Moraine Valley hosted its annual winter dance on Dec. 16, just in time to let off stress after finals and to celebrate the upcoming holidays.

The Student Union building on Moraine Valley campus in Palos Hills was transformed into a “Winter in Paris,” which was the theme of this year’s winter dance. It was held from 7 p.m. to midnight. The dance was discussed at the Moraine Valley Community College Board meeting on Dec. 20.

Tickets were $5 at the door and all proceeds benefited the American Cancer Society. In total, $730 was raised on behalf of Moraine Valley Community College.

The dress code was “dress to impress” and open to anyone ages 17 years or older, even to community members.

“The dance is an annual event that is held to finish off the semester on a positive note for all students,” said David Shipyor, student trustee. “This year nearly 150 students attended the dance, which included special events held by different clubs such as a fashion show, musical displays and singing.”

The ball was sponsored by Student Life, Inter Club Council as well as Asian Diversity Club, Women in Action, Fashion Valley Couture, First Generation Club, and the 24 Karat Dance Team.

Fashion Valley Couture club strutted their stuff for a fashion show while the 24 Karat Dance Team performed a dance. A professional DJ spun music for the festivities and student DJ’s were also given a chance at the turn tables. Winners from the U Got Talent Show performed their winning pieces. Tambra Bullock took first place while Harold Rodriguez placed second.

“The dance involved hard work on behalf of our students and staff, for which I commend them. I'm looking forward to more such events in the upcoming spring semester,” said Shipyor.

Kaitlyn Palakaitis, Moraine Valley student and Student Life employee, was a part of the dance committee that worked to make the magical night come to life. The dance committee was in charge of everything that goes along with planning for the dance, including the winter in Paris decorations, food, DJ, and entertainment.

“The committee met every Wednesday from the beginning of November to the dance, so probably about six weeks,” said Palakaitis. “We had our meetings to plan the dance and the day of we had volunteers from the various sponsoring clubs that were involved, such as Fashion Valley Couture, 24 Karat Dance Team, Asian Diversity, Women in Action, and First Generation club and we had a Phi Theta Kappa come in as well to help volunteer and decorate.”

But the spirit of giving didn’t stop there for Moraine Valley students, who continued to donate to other worthy causes for the holidays.

“There were different donations to food shelters, to pet shelters and there was a letter-writing campaign to the children’s hospital, so a lot of good work on behalf of our students,” added Shipyor.

Our top 10 sports stories of 2016 have a national flavor

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


PAGE 1 PILE 11 10

Since this newspaper came up with the top 10 sports stories of the year in 2013, many of the lists featured local athletes who had an impact on area and state sports.

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Mother McAuley's volleyball team won state and national titles in 2016.

This year, there are some stories that reached national attention as well. The area produced a couple of national champions in volleyball, a Super Bowl champ, a softball pitcher who set national records and an NBA player who played high school around here and made news all over the United States when he signed with the Bulls.

Here are the top 10 Reporter/Regional Sports stories of 2016:

1. Serving up national titles

Mother McAuley’s volleyball coach Jen DeJarld thought at the beginning of the season in August her team was not worth of being ranked as a top team in the south suburbs. By November, the Mighty Macs won the Illinois High School Association Class 4A state title.

By December, they were named national champions by

And USA Today/AVCA.

Oh, and MaxPreps came in as well to make it three national championships for McAuley, which finished 40-1 on the campaign and won its 15th state title in school history.

2. Super Bowl champion

Michael Schofield, an offensive lineman from Orland Park who played at Sandburg High School and the University of Michigan, did not play a down of football for the Denver Broncos his rookie year in 2015.

But in 2016, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Schofield worked his way into the starting lineup and played right tackle in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 as the Broncos knocked off Carolina 24-10 in iconic quarterback Peyton Manning’s last game.

Schofield was given the hero’s treatment at Sandburg in April.

3. Wade comes home

The pro basketball world took plenty of notice when former Richards High School star Dwyane Wade and his longtime team, the Miami Heat, were not able to reach an agreement after 14 seasons and he signed with the Bulls in the summer.

Wade didn’t make his homecoming officials until his press conference in front of hundreds of reporters and dozens of cameras from all over the United States.

4. Huge numbers for Nonnemacher and SXU softball

St. Xavier University pitcher Nicole Nonnemacher had already done some terrific things in her career in her first three seasons, including striking out all 15 batters she faced in a game her junior year. But on April 9, she had the most astounding afternoon of her career.

Nonnemacher struck out 42 St. Ambrose batters in 19 innings of work in a doubleheader. She became the first pitcher in NAIA history to strike out 20 batters in back-to-back games. St. Ambrose came into the game with a 20-6 record, won nine of its 10 previous games and was hitting .300, so this was no cupcake opponent.

A few months later the Cougars made school history when they finished second in the nation in NAIA play. 

5. Burning up the track

With the threat of rain, Illinois High School Association officials wanted the state track meet in Charleston to run as quickly as possible and Sandburg’s 4x800 relay team did its job by running so fast, it set a state record.

The team of Tom Brennan, Dylan Jacobs, Sean Torpy and Chris Torpy broke the state mark of 7 minutes, 40.02 seconds (set in 2006) with a 7:37.36 which, at the time, was also the top time in the nation.

The Eagles finished third in Class 3A in the meet, just the second time in school history it won a top-3 trophy. Sandburg also took third in Class AA in 1977.

6. 1,000 for Hallberg

When St. Xavier’s women’s basketball team beat Taylor 81-71 on Nov. 26, it marked coach Bob Hallberg’s 1,000th career win. He coached Kennedy’s boys, St. Xavier’s men, Chicago State’s men, the University of Illinois’ men and started the SXU program in 2000.

Hallberg was honored on the court that his named after him at the Shannon Center earlier this month for reaching four figures in the win department.

7. Nothing light about these titles

Two of the lighter Sandburg wrestlers lit up State Farm Arena in February as Louie Hayes (113 pounds) and Rudy Yates (126) won Illinois High School Association state titles.

Hayes beat previously unbeaten Real Wood of Montini, 2-1, in the title match in a bout Eagles coach Eric Siebert called “one of the best matches I’ve been a part of in the chair.’’

Yates closed his career with three state titles and a 167-3 mark including a 91-0 record at Sandburg after transferring from Brother Rice.

8. Area stars lead Celtics to third title

In the unpredictable world of high school baseball, and the Illinois High School Association’s single elimination format for the postseason, only two teams had won multiple consecutive state titles heading into 2016 – Maine Township (1958-59) and Providence Catholic (2014-15).

The Celtics went one better with a 10-3 victor over Mundelein in the Class 4A title game for the state’s first baseball three-peat. All three years, the Celtics were not favored to win it and all three years they didn’t even with their own Catholic League Blue Conference title.

Orland Park’s Kevin Fitzgerald, Matt Gruszkowski, Tom Kelley, Kyle Struck, Matt Trzesniewski and Matt Swanson were on the team and Kelley made national news when his throw from deep right field to gun down a Mundelein runner at third made one of the ESPN plays of the day.

9. TCC volleyball team wins national title

When some teams do not qualify for the NAIA Tournament, they are eligible for the National Christian Catholic Athletic Association tournaments and Trinity Christian College’s women’s volleyball team won the national championship on that level in December.

 The Trolls (31-15) won a wild five-set match against Oklahoma Baptist in the semifinals in Kissimmee, Florida, and followed it up with an 25-17  25-27, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13 victory over Campbellsville for the title. Sophomore Kacie Stoll was named the tournament’s most outstanding payers and Bill Schepel was named Coach of the Year.

10. No rest for Sabbath

Evergreen Park’s Jeff Sabbath ran in his 34th Chicago Triathlon on Aug. 28.

There have only been 34 running of that race. Sabbath is the only runner in the race’s history to participate in all 34. In 2013, Sabbath and Hampshire’s Bob Oury had perfect attendance in the race but Oury did not run in 2014.

Sabbath, 57, finished the race in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 36 seconds.



Freezing temps don't deter volunteers from delivering Christmas baskets in Worth

  • Written by Joe Boyle

placing cans photo 12-22

Photo by Joe Boyle

Volunteers place canned goods in a box in preparation for the annual Christmas Baskets event held Sunday at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post in Worth.

Beth Lode likes to refer to the annual Christmas Baskets event in Worth as a well-oiled machine.

Lode, one of the co-chairs for the Holiday Basket Committee for the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Auxiliary at 11001 S. Depot Worth, has been through this drill before. The event was held Sunday morning at the post, and Lode said she is appreciative of the volunteers who have helped distribute the food and toys to families in need.

Those families live in Worth, Lode points out. She applauds the efforts of so many people who want to help out to make residents who are having a difficult time have some holiday cheer.

“This dates back to the 1940s,” said Lode, who is assisted by co-chair Mary Frestel. “We have been doing this all these years and I have been out here for 46 years. We get a lot of support. We even have one family who came here from Warrenville to help out.”

Lode said it is due to the fact that this has been an annual event dating back to the end of World War II that the Christmas Baskets event is done so well. The job is a labor of love for Lode and the auxiliary, post members and other volunteers. But she adds that the need is great.

She anticipated that over 70 families, including over 145 children, will need help. On Sunday morning, Lode could be found inside the post asking children, teens and adult volunteers to pack boxes and bags with canned goods and produce. She was also helping pass out numbers to volunteers who would place them on the packages and to the drivers who would pull up in their vehicles to pick up the packages assigned for specific residents.

The drivers pull away with the goods to deliver. They are then replaced by other drivers who go through the same process. The vehicles began to line up at about 9 a.m. and left promptly to deliver food, household items and toys to different families in Worth.

“We have so many great volunteers,” said Lode. “We have so many people who help out.”

Well over 100 volunteers helped out despite the temperatures that were near zero degrees. Lode said that conditions have been worse.

“I remember about four years ago we had a blizzard and a lot of snow,” recalled Lode. “The power went out in everybody’s home. But everyone still showed up. It was heart- warming.”

Worth Mayor Mary Werner assisted at the Christmas Baskets event. She helped bring boxes of food out and assisted in organizing rows of items that were numbered for the drivers. She checked over a list with volunteers who were placing bags and boxes in specific rows or in waiting vehicles.

“Everyone comes out and helps,” said a bundled up Werner. The mayor pointed to the “Tons of Food Drive” held last month by local scout groups provided a lot of goods for the cause.

She added that volunteers go out at 8 a.m. to bring milk, bread and paper towels from the nearby Fairplay gocery store. The mayor said this truly a team effort.

“This is so well organized,” said Werner. “I want to thank many of the volunteers who are from our fire and police departments. And we have certain homes that get toys. We have them all listed here. The Worth Lions Club also does a great job of providing goods.”

Lode said that the cub scouts helped stack food on Saturday in preparation of the Christmas Baskets event. She said with the assistance they get, families in need also receive sweatshirts, gloves and hats for the children, along with a grocery gift certificate for seniors .

“We prepare for this for months,” said Lode. “The items come in and we list them and store a lot of them ahead of time.”

The auxiliary also hosts a Thanksgiving Baskets event. Volunteers help sort out donated pantry items and set up the dry and canned goods at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Hall.

“We receive a lot of help,” said Lode. “This is really a community effort.”