DEMOTTE — The holidays are always a stressful time for families in need and combine that with the extra hardships of dealing with COVID-19 and the need for charity is even greater.

To combat this, Tysen’s Family Food Center and DeMotte KV Rotary teamed up for a food drive campaign that has seen an incredible response and support from the local community.

“I borrowed the idea from a competitor and got it going this year with our $5 and $10 bags for the food pantries,” said Karl Schulz, manager at Tysen’s Family Food Center. “The need is always there and COVID-19 made it even worse.”

The campaign that featured the pre-filled bags of goods for purchase started just a few weeks ago and more than 500 bags have been purchased and donated to the food pantries at Our Sorrowful Mother of Wheatfield and the Good Neighbor Food Pantry located in DeMotte.

“Credit the community for stepping up, their response has been astronomical,” added Schulz. “I want to thank everyone for the outstanding support and together we all can make a difference.”

Schulz who still serves as a Lion’s Club member out of Chicago Heights knows the importance of helping members of the community.

“A philosophy I live by is that if you support the community, then the community will support you,” said Schulz.

While Christmas is considered the time of giving, it is also the time when the need, especially for food pantries, is at the highest.

“Tysen’s and the Rotary have filled a great need here at the pantry,” said Linda Duttlinger of Our Sorrowful Mother. “There are plenty of families in need of help and I don’t see those numbers coming down anytime soon.”

Duttlinger said that before COVID-19 the pantry would serve around 75 to 80 a week. That is no longer the case as the number of families being served now has doubled.

“Once in a while pre-COVID we would serve 100 families in a week,” added Duttlinger. “Now we are averaging 140 to 145 families a week and last week we served 152 families. This campaign by Tysen’s and the Rotary has filled a lot of empty shelves and they have done a great job of selecting products for the bags. There is pasta sauce, noodles, vegetables, tuna, and peanut butter — all great items.”

Our Sorrowful Mother is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and they do not discriminate by address, says Duttlinger.

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