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Strack & Van Til donates hundreds of gift cards at a time when food requests have soared by 500%
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Strack & Van Til donates hundreds of gift cards at a time when food requests have soared by 500%

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Strack & Van Til donates hundreds of gift cards at a time when food requests have soared by 500%

Jeff Strack, left, and Dave Wilkinson, right, of Strack & Van Til present a donation of $15,000 in gift cards to The Salvation Army Lake County.

Strack & Van Til donated $15,000 to The Salvation Army Lake County at a time when food requests have soared by 500%.

The Highland-based supermarket chain, which has 20 locations around Northwest Indiana, gave 600 gift cards to help families buy groceries this holiday season. The Salvation Army plans to distribute the $25 gift cards at its community centers in Gary, East Chicago, and Munster to obtain nutritious and delicious food for their holiday meals.

It also provided another $5,000 in gift cards to the Porter County chapter of The Salvation Army, which has been socked by increased demand and decreased donations to its iconic red kettles.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major spike in requests for humanitarian and social services, such as help avoiding homelessness, hunger and utility shut offs.

“We are still working day-in and day-out not knowing what hardships the next day will bring. It is most difficult to prepare for the unknown,” The Salvation Army Lake County Captain Brian Clark said. “No one alive today has experienced a worldwide pandemic such as COVID-19. My prayer is that there won’t be another as devastating.”

Many seeking help in Lake County during the COVID-19 pandemic have never sought it before. The greatest need is for food, Clark said.

“Lake County has seen more than a 500% increase in the requests for emergency food assistance,” Clark said. “By providing help with obtaining food, many people can use money they’ve saved to pay their rent and utilities, preventing them from becoming homeless.”

Region stores that closed in 2020

Region stores that closed in 2020

The brick-and-mortar retail sector has been struggling because of competition with e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, Chewy and Zappos. But 2020 presented unprecedented challenges because of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns and restrictions. Here's a look at stores in the Region that closed, announced they would close, filed for bankruptcy or were saved from closure in 2020:

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JC Penney, which already had filed for bankruptcy and announced it was shuttering 230 stores nationwide, said it would close its Calumet City department store at 200 River Oaks Drive. The troubled retailer is shuttering 154 stores this summer and plans to announce another wave of closures in the next few weeks.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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