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Volunteers Priceless at West Suburban Community Pantry

West Suburban Community Pantry relies on volunteers to keep the Pantry shelves stocked, organized and clients happy.

The 150 volunteers at the donate close to 20,000 hours each year.

“This place simply wouldn’t run without them,” said Roger Schmith, founder and Director of Operations at West Suburban Community Pantry (WSCP). “They run this place and keep it running.”

The volunteers pick up donations, sort and shelve food, fill orders and assist clients. Some are even behind the scenes writing grant applications, press releases and doing clerical work.

The WSCP, located at 6809 Hobson Valley Drive in Woodridge, currently serves 4,000 people per month.

“We have been super busy over the past two years due to the economy,” Schmith said. He doesn’t see it slowing down at all. “We are still getting 125 new clients each and every month.”

Volunteers can donate a few hours a month to several hours a week. The pantry needs about 20 volunteers to work each shift.

Each year the Pantry recognizes their volunteers through holiday luncheons and an annual staff lunch, at which time one person is named Volunteer of the Year.

This year’s winner, Kathleen Campbell of Bolingbrook, still tears up when she talks about it.

“I am so humbled, honored, amazed and appreciative to be recognized by my peers,” Campbell said.  She said feels like she doesn’t do much there but gets back so much satisfaction.

“The words of appreciation, tears and hugs from clients are so worth the few hours I spend a week volunteering.”

Campbell has been volunteering at the pantry for three years. She started while she was working full-time when the pantry began its Thursday night shift. Now she is semi-retired and has picked up an additional shift on Saturdays.

“Helping people is addictive,” Campbell said. “I find the time to volunteer because it revitalizes me and gives me immediate satisfaction.”

Julie Benario, of Naperville, feels the same way. She’s been volunteering for more than two years. "It’s easy to see the value here," Benario said. "I get instant gratification and leave feeling good about what I’ve done.”

Brothers Bret and Bart Rusk began volunteering when they lost their jobs nearly two years ago. They both describe their experience as a positive one.  They said even when they do find employment, they will continue to come back to volunteer because of the great group of people they’ve met while volunteering at the pantry.

Come check out at their annual open house on Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m.  Community members can tour the facility and learn how they can volunteer.

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