DeKALB – Every year he freezes for food, WLBK program director Terry Ryan shoots for a few more donations.
When the radio station kicked off its “Freezin’ for Food” charity promotion 12 years ago, Ryan said it struggled to get 1,000 pounds in nonperishable food items. Last year, the station collected 16,295 pounds’ worth of food. This year, it’s aiming to collect more than 17,000 pounds.
“Every year, the folks of DeKalb County come through,” Ryan said. “More people than ever are struggling in DeKalb County, but yet, every year, people come through and we’ve been able to add more to the total every year for the last 12 years.”
From noon Wednesday to noon Saturday, Ryan will be parked at the Aldi-Target shopping center near Starbucks at 2577 Sycamore Road. The food Ryan and the staff of WLBK collect goes to the DeKalb Salvation Army.
Local schools usually bring donations from their own drives. Participating this year are the following DeKalb schools: Lincoln Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Huntley Middle School and Clinton Rosette Middle School.
As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ryan and the staff had collected 2,129 pounds of food. Ryan stays on-site in a heated camper. He said he will take any donation at any hour.
Sycamore residents Larry and Ellen McMillan donated a box of food to help ensure that DeKalb County residents have a good Christmas this year.
“When my wife and I first got married, we were kind of down, too,” Larry McMillan said. “And we just like to help out people who are in need also, because we were in that boat at that one time.”
The charity food drive also collects monetary donations, but Ryan said that has fluctuated over the years. Last year, they raised $5,000, which was used to buy food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Including the 16,925 pounds of food Freezin’ for Food had collected, The Salvation Army was able to distribute more than 48,000 pounds of food last year.
One of Wednesday’s biggest donors was Kishwaukee College. College President Thomas Choice dropped off 761 pounds of food that Kishwaukee student organizations and faculty members had collected.
Choice said the college made a concerted effort to collect as much food as possible.
“We have been so lucky that the community has supported the college over our whole history,” Choice said. “For us, we always feel it’s something important. ... We’ve tried to be an active participant in a lot of events in the community, and this is another example of that.”