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Shnay: Focus on generosity this holiday season

Updated: December 18, 2013 6:12AM



When we talked with Chuck and Kim Schaefer last month, they were busy putting up their Halloween “decorations” in the front yard of their house on Shabbona Drive in Park Forest and hoping that visitors to a ghastly butcher shop would drop off donations for the food pantries of Rich and Monee townships.

This time we asked how they did.

“It was awesome,” Chuck said. “We wound up with 950 boxes and cans of food, the most we’ve ever collected in the three years we’ve been doing this. We were able to give each food pantry 475 items.”

The Schaefers had a garbage-can-sized container next to the driveway of their house so those who wanted to donate could deposit nonperishable food. There was one evening a week before Halloween when the container was overflowing.

Calvary United Protestant Church had a “haunted house” that the Schaefer family helped build. Admissions to that exhibit netted $300, with all the money used to purchase more food. Even Chuck’s employer, Advanced Auto Parts of Chicago Heights, helped with the donations and collections.

Along with the usual feeling of warmth that comes from this kind of effort, Monee Township sent the Schaefers a grateful letter that may soon be framed and put up on a wall in their house.

As we said earlier, the house at 127 Shabbona Drive is decorated for all the big holidays. Thanksgiving decorations are going up and will be followed by displays for Christmas, Easter and Independence Day.

When Halloween comes around next year, the scenes will be different (“bigger and better,” says Chuck), but the message of giving will be the same.

The idea for such an effort is part of the “Haunts Against Hunger” program begun by Thom Kramer, the son of former village Trustee Ken Kramer and his wife Sue. This year, there were 11 other sites throughout Illinois in a campaign that is now in nine states, from Pennsylvania to California.

Wouldn’t it be nice, Chuck thinks, if neighbors on their block could get together and form a long row of Halloween houses next year — bringing even more donations to the food pantries?

And then there’s that vacant house a few doors down from the Schaefer residence.

“If I only knew who owns that property,” Chuck said.

Reward your fellow shopper

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at a store in the area that often has promotions for various cookware items that can be obtained for what seems to be a reduced price after collecting stamps given out with purchases.

The kitchen in our house has enough of these things to last us three days past forever, so we usually say “no” when asked if we save the stamps.

But some shoppers take those stamps and give it to the next person in the checkout line. It’s a nice idea. I guess as long as the groceries are paid for, the store doesn’t care who gets the stamps.

The giving season approaches

It’s no accident that we’ve discussed in this column two examples of generosity. The next time we get together here, Thanksgiving will be gone, Hanukkah will be hanging around and Christmas and Kwanzaa will be here.

Some will feast, but others will be forced to do without because of fire, flood and even typhoon. There is more than enough misery to go around.

Can we set one more place at our table, calculate the cost of feeding an absent diner and send that money to our favorite charity? No one ever accused this writer of being a do-gooder, but this is the time of year when some of us need to do something good.



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