GARY | One in five children living in Lake and Porter counties knows hunger in his or her daily life, and many of the elderly in Northwest Indiana don’t get enough nutritious food to eat.
That's according to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, which is working to combat those problems with its Hope for the Holidays campaign.
The effort on Friday gained the support of area residents and public officials, the United Way, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, the city of Gary, WLTH Radio 1370-AM and NIPSCO.
“It’s good to be here. We want to feed 1,000 families in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties this holiday season,” Angie Williams, Food Bank executive director, said at a live WLTH Radio 1370-AM radio-thon Friday at the Urban League headquarters, 3101 Broadway.
NIPSCO kick-started the effort on-air and online Friday by offering a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 contributed to the food basket campaign.
That’s enough to provide holiday food baskets for the 1,000 families in the three counties, Williams said.
The radio-thon from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. raised $6,329, said NIPSCO spokesman Eddie Melton, who hosted the on-air event with Urban League President Vanessa Allen.
“NIPSCO will donate the entire $10,000,” Melton said after the broadcast. “We’ll also keep the website, www.hopefortheholidaysnwi.org, up throughout next week so people can continue to give.”
The festive atmosphere at the Urban League offices drew residents and public officials who walked in with donations of nonperishable food and checks made out to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. Calls came in from all over the region and from former residents in such places as New York.
Monetary pledges and food donations also were accepted at the Roberto Clemente Center, 3616 Elm St. in East Chicago, during the broadcast. Others gave through the website.
Allen called the radio-thon “Voices of Love” and encouraged those who walked in with donations to talk on-air about why they support the effort.
Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey wrote a personal check to help the campaign.
“This is one of the causes I support every year. There are a lot of families in need,” Frey said.
Tony Walker, of Gary, and members of his family and his children brought in canned goods and he later came back to write a check.
“If you are hungry, it’s hard to learn,” he said.
A loud cheer went up when Kevin and Marjorie DeVries, of Chicago-based Dutch Farms, donated a $1,000 check. DeVries is the incoming board president of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.
Williams said in addition to a new building to house the ever-expanding Food Bank, her wish list contains three major items — “senior hunger, quality nutrition available at the Food Bank and to expand our child hunger programs.”