DeKALB – Bretne Alisio wouldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner without The Salvation Army’s holiday baskets.
“We’ve been signed up for a couple of years now,” the DeKalb resident said. She already is signed up for Christmas assistance so her 8-year-old will have toys, clothes and a hearty meal.
Salvation Army Capt. Michael Cho said 808 families had signed up, and several more arrived to sign up late Tuesday during the distribution. The baskets included turkey, pumpkin pie, a shopping bag full of canned and boxed goods, and a crisp, red apple for each family member.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Cho said.
The baskets also included information on cooking a turkey and recipes for using the leftovers.
“We don’t call them leftovers,” said Janelle Stein, with the University of Illinois Extension. “We call them overproduction.”
Megan Jackson from the DeKalb County Health Department also had a display to provide information on health insurance, either through public aid or the health insurance marketplace.
Even with the food and information basket recipients took home, volunteers at The Salvation Army received as much as they gave.
Gerri Zahnle of DeKalb helped people carry bags to their cars.
“This is my first time volunteering here,” Zahnle said. “My church [First Congregational UCC] is involved. We collected groceries.”
“This is my second year volunteering and it feels good to give back and to be around these people doing the same,” Julie Cummings said.
Meanwhile, Cummings was among three people from C.L.E.A.N. Slate Alumni volunteering Tuesday. The Choosing Life and Ending Abuse Now program which is part of the DeKalb County drug court, emphasizes giving back to the community.
“This is my second year volunteering,” Cummings said. “And it feels good to give back and to be around these people doing the same.”
At the age of 12, Abby Lewis of Sycamore, has volunteered for three years. She was there with her mother, her brother Zack, and her sister Rebekah.
Abby Lewis said they are homeschooled, so they have opportunities to volunteer.
“This is fun for us,” she said with a big grin.