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Shnay: ‘Haunts Against Hunger’ help feeds those in need

Chuck Kim Schaefer.  |  Supplied photo

Chuck and Kim Schaefer. | Supplied photo

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Updated: November 21, 2013 6:16AM



Remember that heartwarming moment in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George Bailey is hailed as the “richest man in town?”

Chuck and Kim Schaefer may be the “richest” people in Park Forest, and their house at 127 Shabbona Drive might be the finest in the village.

No, they didn’t win the lottery, and their residence is no different than those of their neighbors. What makes the Schaefer family “rich” is not in what they earn but in what they give to others.

What makes their house so appealing is the way it looks at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day and especially now as Halloween draws near.

For each of those holidays, the Schaefer clan — Chuck and Kim, along with children Amber, Catrina and Dylan — decorate their front yard for the occasion. On Halloween, along with the ghosts, ghouls, witches, goblins, tombstones and spiders, is a large container.

That’s where you drop off your donation of food to the food pantries in Rich and Monee townships, and the reasons the family give for what they do is what makes all the difference.

Chuck, who works for an auto parts dealer, and Kim, a school bus driver, understand that hunger is not something that happens to other people.

“We don’t have very much, and there were times we had to go to a pantry,” Kim said. “What we have is what we’ve got, and we’re no better than most but we want to do something.”

That “something” is part of the “Haunts Against Hunger” food drive, a flourishing organization started by Thom Kramer, the son of longtime Park Forest Trustee Ken Kramer and Ken’s wife Sue.

The Kramers live down the street from the Schaefers, and when Thom first saw their front yard he asked them to join in the campaign to help stock food pantries. Last year, there were eight of these haunted houses to aid the hungry in the Chicago area.

In the first year of their food drive, the Schaefers collected 780 items of non-perishable food. This year, Calvary United Protestant Church will have a “haunted house” on its premises — one that Chuck, a skilled craftsman, and Kim, an artist, helped create. A donation to the food pantry is your ticket.

“We know people go hungry, and kids go to bed without dinner,” Kim said. “And this is one way we can teach our children about giving back to the community.”

When you drive by to view the family’s decorations, remind yourself that a can or a box of food can help scare away hunger. We need to put our money nearer our hearts.



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