Update from my time at the Food Pantry (3-1-2012)

It’s been a while since I posted something about my experiences at the Willow Creek Care Center/Food Pantry. Things are still going well, helping families, seeing random food products. These past 2 Sundays, I’ve been helping out more in the bread room, keeping shelves stocked, locating more items, pushing bread carts and the like. I’ve been given more important responsibilities. I also get the honor of turning on all the lights in the public areas of the care Center, while my supervisors open doors,  and greet waiting guests.

A donation that was left outside the doors of the FP

The above donation was full of oatmeal, grapes, yogurt and apple slices.

A donation that I sorted through. Crackers and cookies.

The two boxes seen above above as full of crakers, Snack well cookies.

Lucky for us, it’s usually still quite chilly outside, so that helps to preserve the freshness of these donated goods, I don’t know how some of these items would hold up during the Spring and Summer seasons.

The “higher-ups” have made an effort to visit the Sunday team more often than before.

Some  of my team members have shown me a great deal of kindness and generosity on multiple occasions. I continue to learn a lot, but there’s still so much that I need to know about in the different sections to be more effective. Communicating with ESL (English as a Second Language)  volunteers is something I still need to improve


Volunteering at the Food Pantry: Turkey time 2011

In addition to the usual items that clients get for their monthly visits, Turkeys and a box of side dishes are also included. This will allow the families to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Sunday team also broke its previous record of most people served, yesterday. The old record was 184, the new record is 208.

The boxes of sides were packed by the Willow Creek community.


Turkey and Sides, Thanksgiving boxes

Boxes, full of Thanksgiving meal fixings

Unfortunately my low quality camera phone can’t really capture the detail of the designs and well wishes on the boxes all that well. There were 4 pallets of these boxes. I found it to be quite a sight to see.

I was quite busy myself, sorting through donated goods, operating the (cardboard) compactor. Helping fellow volunteers locate goods, and fill special requests/needs. Since this was my first time serving during the Thanksgiving season, I can only imagine how much busier things could get.

Changes and retraining

It’s been quite a while since my last post about the Willow Creek Food Pantry. Things are going well there. Weekends are actually getting busier since my previous entry. Sunday team serves 100+ families regularly, and the team leader let us know (from his experience) that it will only get busier.

There’s always  something a little different going on with this Food pantry, a slight change in the placement of goods in the warehouse, what bags we use, to what goes into the bags. We get new volunteers while others take a little break.

One of the new things I’ve learned while here, is how to confidently load and operate a Compactor. It’s used to flatten large amounts of reusable  cardboard, which gets recycled. My ability to process empty cardboard material (boxes and trays the food stuff is shipped in)  has improved quite a bit. I continually assist in training new volunteers. I’ve even taken steps to recycle more stuff while at home.


Next week all volunteers will be going through a retraining session. Since I primarily deal with the Food part of the center perhaps I will be able to learn more about the other areas, and processes that I have had less exposure to. Not too sure.   I’ve never met any of the weekday volunteers, so  perhaps I will get that chance at this event.



BBQ HUT (You cook your order)

1147 North Roselle Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
(847) 882-9292

A small and relatively quiet Korean restaurant. There are 4-seat  and 6-seat tables and in the middle of each table is a round cooking pit and a nearby flame control knob. The items you order arrive at your table raw (marinated) and you cook it yourself with the provided tongs.

The two times I’ve been here, they served us hot tea to start off.
One thing I really enjoy about eating at a Korean restaurant are the sides you always get.

apple, slices in spicy sauce
potato salad
Korean bean paste

I’m not sure if it is only for the “all you can eat” patrons or if it’s the same for regular orders.

Near the kitchen is a little area where you can get corn, onion, mushrooms and lettuce to use as a wrap. You can order white rice if you prefer that instead. The usual Bulgogi and Galbi are enough for me, even though I saw a few more items available on the (all you can eat ) menu.

There are a few items available for dessert ( mostly Ice Cream) and they serve a refreshingly chilled cinnamon? drink when you ask for the check. I think it’s a good place to go for a party of 2 to 6 people.

Additional Info:
Yelp page

My experience as a volunteer at the Willow Creek Food Pantry

For the past several weekends, I have been  doing volunteer activities at a  food pantry/care center. What I do there is mainly packing, marking and moving food bags (in the back of a warehouse), for the families that come through the the doors.

Willow Creek Food Pantry & Care Center
2080 Stonington Ave.
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Willow Creek Care Center exterior

This is what gets packed into large paper bags

  • Cereal
  • Beans (Canned of bagged)
  • Rice
  • Tomato/ Spaghetti sauce
  • Protein  ( canned tuna)
  • Oatmeal or Grits
  • Vegetables
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pasta
  • Jelly
  • Fruit (canned)
  • Boxes of tissues
  • Rolls of toilet Paper
  • Pouches of mashed potato
  •  Specials ( coffee, crackers, mints and other things)
On a few occasions I’ve seen the team be accommodating to clients who have allergies, and other special needs.
Recently, aside from packing the bags
There is also a Bread room here. I find it Interesting to be in the Bread room of the pantry because a good variety of baked items to work with…
  • White Bread
  • Whole Wheat Bread
  • Whole Wheat (w/honey)
  • Raisin bread
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Baguettes (French bread)
  • Muffins
  • Bagels
  • Burger and Hot Dog buns
The volunteer(s) that get to work this room have a little more flexibility in choosing what goods go into the bag. The only two guidelines I was ever given while in here were, we try to give the clients  as much variety as possible. All the thile staying within a quantity limit.
 There is a (frozen) meat station to work at. I’ve seen chicken, ground beef, Roasts, Ribs Burger meat patties, and sausages. There is also a produce station, where you handle fresh fruits  and Vegetables. Working either of these stations means that you will venture into the walk-in refrigerator and walk-in freezer from time to time to get items for the bags. Either would be a nice station to work at when it’s hot outside, haha.
Recently, I’ve been handling the station I like to call “Box breakdown”.
This is a station for those who like to flatten empty boxes and cardboard containers of different kinds. Here will use your hands and/or feet to flatten out items, load them into a large bin that gets moved into the next room, to be compacted. This station is for those with lots of energy because you will get a lot of items to work on in a single shift. Knowing how to handle a box cutter will help things go faster as well. I also like to do item restocking for the bag packing stations.  The Food Pantry saves some boxes to be reused for storage. We also recycle paper and plastic.
  • Chiquita Banana  (tops and bottoms)
  • Peapod boxes
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository Salvage Boxes
The Weekend volunteer team leaders are a wonderful lot
Norm (Saturday)
Gina (Saturday)
Jon (Saturday)
Gerry (Sunday)
Bob (Sunday)
Even though they are just a busy as any other volunteer, they are always willing to take time to help you look for something  or answer a few questions.
We usually start with a team meeting and a prayer, before serving the guests/clients.
The Sunday team is currently looking for additional volunteers and any bi-lingual persons would be a great help for our Spanish speaking clients.

4th of July 2011 festival- Thoughts Part 2

I got down there just before the Fire Department demo started and I found myself a nice viewing spot under a tree (on the grass). It apparently takes 5 firefighters to effectively execute this rescue method.  The vehicle was a 4-door sedan that was propped up with angled blocks under each wheel and hydraulic tools. They proceeded to break  the glass from all the passenger ( and driver) doors. With the use of a tool and some human strength, the doors  were removed from the car. The last part was to remove the roof of the car. They used some sort of  powered cutter to slice through the supports and lift the roof (with the front windshield attached)   down to the ground.I found it just as interesting as last year. I’m also glad to see if  this method ever needs to be performed in a real situation, the Fire Department is prepared.

Back to the festival. The carnival  games, rides and attractions were just about the same as last year. Cotton candy is still available.  As I mentioned in an earlier entry the food vendors were using a ticket system for food payment. The exchange rate was $1.00 = 1 ticket.

Here’s what I had

  • Hotdog on bun, Chicago-style (3 tickets)
  • Soda can (1 Ticket)
  • Bob Chinn’s  Crabhouse Lemonade (2 Tickets)
  • Deep fried cheesecake (4 tickets)
The hotdog was good.  The Bob Chinn’s Crab House (Lemonade) was one of those good surprises I was hoping to find. It was very good. Next was my mission to try Deep fried candy. I had originally planned to get deep fried snickers as my first taste of deep fried candy, but a “house” recommendation changed my mind and I decided to be extra “adventurous” and went with Cheesecake. I also got a choice of extra sauce.  The serving size was just right, first time to try this and all. The outside was warm and soft enough to break into with a plastic fork. How was the taste?  To my surprise the “shell” tasted similar to a corn dog, but thinner.  The cheesecake filling helped to give a sweet and creamy flavor with each bite. The filling was mostly warm, but cooler in the center (compared to the previous bites). A bit odd. Good overall experience, could probably only handle that 1 serving I had. Got that “heavy” feeling after I finished, and stood up.  I’m definitely going back to try the Snickers version.
Some of the food/ticket prices were interesting :
 Gyro -8 tickets
 Burrito – 5 Tickets
Pulled pork sandwich – 6 tickets
Pizza slice – 3 tickets
Lemonade (different vendor) – 5 tickets with a discount for refills
Shrimp – 5 tickets
Smoothie – 3 tickets
Funnel cake – 4 tickets
Snow cone – 2 tickets
Good overall food culture variety. American, Italian, Mexican, Polish and Chinese.

Hoffman Estates 4th of July festival 2011-initial thoughts

The 4th of July weekend has rolled around again and that means carnival rides, food tents, games, music, a parade and fireworks. Last year I was going around trying to see everything I could from rides, games, food and entertainment, but this year I will have a more focused experience.  It at the same location as the last time

Hoffman Estates 4th of July Festival 2011
June 30th to July 4th
1900 Hassell Road (Village Hall)
Hoffman Estates, IL  60169

What I’m interested in seeing and trying are:

  • Be adventurous, and try a deep fried candy snack
  • Have funnel cake
  • HE Fire Department vehicle extraction demo
  • HE Fire Department High angle rescue demo
Sadly, there won’t be any food competitions, like last year. Tickets will be used to purchase foods  instead of “straight up” US Dollars.   I’ll be heading down there in a few hours. Hopefully, I’ll be surprised and find more things to do.