Record day for helpers

Record day for helpers

CHAMPAGN — The third annual Community & Campus Day of Service food drive far exceeded its goal Saturday at the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium, with some help from a chancellor and a governor.
The goal had been 148,000 low-fat, nutritional means for  148 years of public engagement at the Urbana campus, said UI administrator Sarah Zehr.
By early afternoon, the count was at 171,000, but Zehr said the final, more accurate count was closer to 160,000, which still allowed 148,000 meals to be sent to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and thousands to  be sent to another food bank in the state.
It was also a record; last year,  Illini Fighting Hunger packaged 147,162 meals to deliver to Eastern Illinois Foodbank.
According to Illini Fighting Hunger’s website, the group has made more than 1,109,073 packaged meals, using 66,827 pounds of rice, 2,880 pounds of pasta and 20,400 pounds of beans.
Chancellor Phyllis Wise packaged a few meals Saturday, though not as many as last year, because the day had been a busy one for her.
“This means we’re going more than 148 years!” she said of the Urbana campus’ longevity.
Zehr said about 1,500 volunteers, a record number, also packaged thousands of packages of oatmeal.
It sent 12,000 packaged meals to the Northern Illinois Food Bank to help storm victims in Rochelle and Fairfield, where a tornado tore through the area.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who had helped out in Rochelle on Friday, was at Memorial Stadium to support the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
He first had to make his way through supporters who wanted pictures with him, after donning an orange shirt proclaiming the day.
“I love T-shirts,” said the governor, who was later given a blue one by Illini Fighting Hunger.
His time delivering meals into food bank trucks was precisely from 2 p.m. to 2:05 p.m., with Wise also on the loading line.
“Many hands make light work,” Rauner said.
“There’s a tremendous need for these meals,” said Rauner, adding that Rochelle tornado victims were still homeless and going hungry, and that the numbers “would make a big difference.”
Rauner praised the Red Cross’ work on behalf of those devastated by the storms.
Also helping out were Angela Perrigin and Sean Perrigin, 8, of Champaign.
By the end of their shift, they were on oatmeal detail.
“I like the casseroles better than the oatmeal,” Sean said, who expected to be back next year.
UI freshman Shaun Hurdelbrink was volunteering with his whole family.
“It’s Moms Weekend,” he explained.

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