Empty Bowls Event Serves Many 

The 8th annual Empty Bowls event at Oakton Community College was held Sat., Dec. 3. This year the event raised $26,000 to benefit 6 local food pantries, up from 5 last year. Every year local artists get together and create bowls and other pottery items to be donated to this event. (See photo above.) Attendees bought the bowls for $12 each, had them wrapped and then received a "soup kitchen lunch". There was a silent auction and a great raffle, as well. Delightful background music was provided by the eclectic duo "Pachouli." All those who attended enjoyed being in the company of such talented artists. The SHC&P had an info table this year. Volunteer and Board Member Katherine Bausone passed out our brochures, magnets, and our fall newsletter and answered any questions the attendees had about the Pantry.


Don't miss this wonderful event. Mark your calendar for the first Saturday in December 2012.


Empty Bowls Event

Empty Bowls Event

Saturday, December 3, 2011           

All proceeds go to 6 local food pantries including the Self Help Closet & Pantry of Des Plaines.

The eight items above were handcrafted by local artists and  are being raffled off at the Empty Bowls event. Raffle tickets can be purchased before and during the event at Oakton. For more info call 847-635-1699.


Garden Angel Project

Last spring the congregation of Unity Northwest Church, 259 E. Central Road in Des Plaines, invited everyone in the northwest suburbs to participate in a project to feed the hungry. "Just drop off a few of your spare fresh vegetables at the church, and representatives from Wings ("Women in Need Growing  Stronger") of Palatine and the Self-Help Food Pantry and Closet of Des Plaines will pick them up and distribute them to the needy in our community," said Rev. Greg Barrette, Senior Minister of Unity Northwest Church.

"In May, we distributed plants to our congregation, and we are now harvesting a bumper crop!" said Rev. Barrette. "Our children, under the direction of Rev. Diane Venzera, planted a huge garden behind the church that they have been tending and harvesting each week in anticipation of this project.  Their Sunday lessons are about being good stewards of the earth, and taking responsibility for feeding those in need."

"But now, we want to share the wealth of this experience with the community and invite everyone to participate.  It will warm your heart and lift up your mind.  It is so easy to feed the hungry!  So much of the food collected by our wonderful local social service agencies is canned or processed, by necessity.  We thought that we could each dedicate at least one vegetable plant and donate this healthier food to the hungry," said Rev. Barrette. 

Produce Angel Among Us   Along these same lines, the Pantry has been the recipient of twice-weekly donations of fresh produce purchased and delivered by a local woman whose initials are G.S. but who we at the Pantry call the “Produce Angel.” She has provided us with potatoes, bananas, oranges, beans, tomatoes, peppers, apples, sweet corn, etc. all summer long. Our clients are thrilled to receive these fresh fruits and veggies. Thanks to all who help us encourage healthier diets with these fresh foods, especially Unity Northwest Church and our “Produce Angel.”


Multi-faceted Volunteer - Teri Mercer

One of our loyal Saturday volunteers has demonstrated that you can make a difference in several arenas. Teri Mercer responded to the call for help in Joplin, MO after the devastating tornado that flattened the entire city on May 22, 2011.


I watched in amazement when news of the tornado in Joplin, MO was reported on TV on May 22, 2011.  I had traveled to Joplin several times in the past because my aunt lives there, as had my late uncle.    Within days I decided I had to go to Joplin to volunteer in whatever way I could.  I followed several Facebook pages related to the Joplin tornado recovery efforts and made contact with some of the agencies that were accepting volunteers.   My friend, Pam, and I drove to Joplin on June 22, one month after the storm hit.

We had been warned, by my aunt as well as volunteers who preceded us, to expect to see complete devastation.  The photos and videos we had seen before the trip didn’t prepare us for what we saw.  From one elevated vantage point near the destroyed St. John’s Hospital on the west side of town, you can look east for miles and see nothing but broken trees, destroyed cars, and rubble where homes and businesses used to stand.  Pam said “it looks like the end of the world” and I couldn’t disagree.  The scene is unimaginable.

We volunteered with Relief Spark for two days delivering food and cold beverages to volunteers gutting homes in the disaster zone.  Our job was easy by comparison.  The workers in the debris field, swinging sledgehammers in 95 degree weather, had to wear boots, jeans, gloves, masks, and hard hats and there was no shade for miles.

Another day we volunteered at College Heights Christian Church’s distribution center.  Displaced residents came there to get food, toiletries, paper goods, pet food, baby products, and more.  It was like a giant, outdoor version of our Pantry.  Our job was to assist each family in navigating the distribution center.  This was a great opportunity to talk one on one with survivors of the tornado and hear their stories.  The resilience of the people of Joplin is remarkable.

We met volunteers from all over the country.  It was a memorable experience and I hope to return to Joplin to volunteer again.  The cleanup and rebuilding will go on for months and years to come.  I encourage you to volunteer in Joplin if you are able.  There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities there.

(Editor's note: As of October 2, 2011 Teri is preparing for her 3rd trip to Joplin with a car full of necessary supplies and donations and all her energy to volunteer for a week.)




Diamond Level Sponsors Oakton Arms and Wahl Jewelers were recently recognized for their participation in the Pantry Corporate Sponsorship program. Receiving their plaques from Debbie Walusiak, Exec. Dir. of the Self Help Closet & Pantry are Barba Wahl of R.C. Wahl Jewelers Inc. and Jay Lewkowitz, Oakton Place Director.  Thank you all for your continued generous support.