Members of Hersey High School’s basketball team showed up Monday at Willow Creek’s Care Center in South Barrington, with a whopping five pallets of food for its food pantry. And that was just one of six local food pantries that received food collected by Hersey High School students and staff.

Hersey students unload boxes. (Photos courtesy of the Care Center)

Turns out this was the 54th year for the Hersey food drive and it continues to get bigger and bigger each year. The drive dates back to 1969, when social studies teacher Will Koslowski started it as an activity for his Service Over Self Club. “Koz” ran the club for more than three decades, during which Hersey students logged more than 1.5 million hours of volunteering.

Koz retired in 2002 — and passed away in 2004 — but the SOS Club continues to involve Hersey students in giving back to the community. Among some of its longstanding traditions are students riding the Love Bus on Valentine’s Day, to visit with area nursing home residents, as well as the fall food drive, which wraps up every year before Thanksgiving.

This year’s drive also stocked shelves at

  • St. Alphonsus Church food pantry in Prospect Heights
  • Northwest Compass in Mount Prospect
  • Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows
  • Journeys/The Road Home in Palatine
  • Wheeling Township Food Pantry in Arlington Heights

The food at the Care Center was very much needed. It has been 10 years since congregation members at Willow Creek Community Church started its Care Center, aimed at offering dignity, hope and transformation. Since that time its services have helped more than 1 million people — and given away more than 35 million pounds of food.

Officials with the Care Center say that it currently serves between 700-800 households, representing 3,000-4,000 individuals — per week — and over the past two years has seen a significant increase in the number of immigrants and refugees, including those from Venezuela and Ukraine, resulting in a 50% increase in first-time guests.

Care Center directors were so thrilled to see the Hersey students show up, unload their boxes of food and stock their shelves.

“We’re so grateful to these Hersey students,” they said, “and their annual tradition of making a difference in their community!”


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