Helping the hungry

Vikings of all ages volunteer at food bank

June  27, 2013

Augustana alumni, parents and friends recently came together for a morning of service at the inaugural Viking Volunteer Day at Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, Ill., in the northwest Chicago suburbs.

The idea for the event came from Ian Fletcher ’09, who is the volunteer coordinator at the food bank.

“It was great to see 40 Augustana-affiliated folks come out to support the food bank,” Fletcher said. “This turnout shows there is really a strong interest, and it would be awesome to see it expand to other locations.”

In the two-and-a-half-hour shift, the Viking Volunteers and other food bank volunteers packed more than 16,000 pounds of bread, paper, mixed dry goods and wheat pasta for distribution to residents in the food bank’s 13-county service area.

“My teachers’ union sponsors two or three food trucks during the school year to help families in our district,” said Charity Di Liberti ’85, a fifth-grade teacher in West Chicago School District #33. “Many of my students benefit from the mobile pantry. It was great to be able to participate because of the immediate sense of community that Augie alumni have wherever we go and the thought of knowing how many people will benefit from just a couple hours of effort on my part.”

Samantha Wong, a 2009 graduate, signed up for Viking Volunteer Day because she thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and learn more about how the food bank helps so many surrounding areas. “It was also a nice way to connect with other people who love Augustana so much,” Wong added. “Augustana alumni share a special bond. These volunteer events give us an opportunity to stay connected with Augie.”

Both Di Liberti and Wong enjoyed meeting and working alongside alumni from the Chicago area, including recent graduates and those who graduated before their years at Augustana.

“Our hope is to channel the success of this first Viking Volunteer Day and spread it to other regions,” said Rylee Hall ’13, assistant director of alumni relations. “One day we would love to see Augustana alumni across the country participating in Viking Volunteer Days.”

Find more information about volunteering at Northern Illinois Food Bank’s locations in Geneva, Park City or Loves Park.

To suggest a idea for a Viking Volunteer Day in your area, please contact Kelly Noack at (309) 794-7474.