When Maddy Jacobs turned nine years old, she decided she did not want presents for her birthday. Instead when she sent out her birthday party invitations, she listed items that Libertyville Township Food Pantry needed.
“I have dinner every night, lunch and breakfast and some people have no idea when their next meal will be,” Jacobs said. “I had been to Feed My Starving Children before and it was really fun so I thought maybe my friends would like it. It would be hard to find time for a big get-together so I used my birthday for it.”
In 2008, Jacobs attended Feed My Starving Children, where people help package food items that are later shipped around the world to children in need. That year Jacobs wanted to do something similar but didn’t have the funds.
“She wanted to somehow help the food pantry and for children it’s harder because they don’t have the money to buy food so she thought of the idea and we decided to make it more of a local thing instead of reaching so far out,” said Jacobs’ mom Beverly Jacobs.
Maddy, who is now 10 years old, says most of her friends were willing to help fulfill her birthday wish.
“Some of my friends gave me food and a small present like earrings, so I still got presents,” Maddy said.
For Maddy’s ninth birthday she collected 210 lbs of food with the help of her friends and donated them to the food pantry at Libertyville Township.
Donations are always welcomed at the food pantry, especially since the slowdown in economy has impacted some people who have worked for their entire lives.
“[We’ve seen] more people in crisis who had been people who had not been needing resources before. We’ve seen increase in senior usage of the food pantry because of social securities,” said Linda Blatnik, Libertyville Township social worker. “Main part [of the increase] was people having lost their job or having their hours cut.”
There was a big leap in people using the food pantry between 2008 and 2009, according to Blatnik. In 2008, 351 families received assistance from the food pantry; that number went up to 452 families in 2009.
In 2010, the number of families in need leveled off a bit to 410 families, but it is still a significant increase from 2005, when only 299 families needed assistance.
Blatnik says since 2007, the food pantry has seen about six such parties hosted in honor of the food pantry.
For the Jacobs, it was important to give back to the community.
“You kind of live in a bubble, you have food on the table and you don’t realize that even here in Libertyville we have a food pantry,” Beverly said.
For more information on donating to the food pantry visit: www.LibertyvilleTownship.us