By Diane Ramonas

Living in DuPage County is a blessing for many and sometimes a hardship for others. People move here from all over the country for many reasons, some of which are the schools and job market. While the amenities are plentiful, it can be a challenge to earn a living wage in this idyllic community. Every week, over 650 families visit Loaves & Fishes for food and services. These families are our neighbors, struggling to put food on the table, pay their mortgage/rent, utilities and medical bills.

Loaves & Fishes has existed for more than 30 years as a conduit between our compassionate community and those who are struggling. We would not be able to assist these families without the help of everyone in this community. As they say, “it takes a village” and our “villagers” of all ages aren’t afraid to help. The efforts are wide, varied and all are valuable. Several schools maintain their own gardens where children along with their parents learn how to grow fresh vegetables and fruits and help provide healthy food for their neighbors. These are lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom. In addition, many school groups organize food drives to fill the shelves of our market with healthy non-perishable foods.

Running is not only a familiar form of exercise in our community, but it is also a form of philanthropy. Many organizations utilize the running or walking of a 5k as a “step” toward helping others. While families struggle to step out of their situation, kindhearted people are stepping up to raise funds while enjoying the camaraderie of other charitable individuals.

Next time your organization, business, school, faith community or neighbors reach out for help, remember, “We are All in this Together.”

Diane Ramonas is Community Relations Manager at Loaves & Fishes Community Services. Contact her at dramonas@loaves-fishes.org or visit www.loaves-fishes.org.

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