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New Lenox’s Sharefest helps the needy

RebeccHarris New Lenox puts finishing touches quilt thher quilting group is donating Sharefest be raffled off raise money for annual

Rebecca Harris, of New Lenox, puts the finishing touches on a quilt that her quilting group is donating to Sharefest to be raffled off to raise money for the annual event. | Susan DeMar Lafferty/Sun Times Media

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Updated: October 2, 2014 9:46AM



Of all the municipal events held throughout the year in the Southland, Sharefest is somewhat unique. It’s a festival of charity and giving — there are no carnival rides, craft booths, musical entertainment or elephant ears.

But there’s something for everyone at New Lenox-based Sharefest, where anyone who wants to donate food, clothing, household goods, books, pet supplies and recyclables is urged to participate.

Volunteers are still needed, and those who do will find a wide variety of jobs from which to choose, according to their interest and ability.

And those in need — whether it’s food, clothing or a job — are especially encouraged to attend Sharefest.

Now in its eighth year, Sharefest has continued to grow from a single day of caring into a season of sharing, with 160 organizations and hundreds of volunteers participating, Sharefest chairman Gary Cheney said.

More people have recently joined the ranks and offered ways to help. The latest Sharefest partners are a group of New Lenox quilters and the Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop in New Lenox, Cheney said.

The quilters, who have donated their handiwork to other charitable causes, will donate a quilt to be raffled off. The group often seeks donations of fabric and received an unfinished quilt that they decided to pay forward.

“We thought it might be helpful to them,” quilter Phyllis Tolen, of New Lenox, said of Sharefest.

After reworking and rejuvenating the quilt, it’s now beautiful and easily worth $350, she said.

Jersey Mike’s will offer 7,500 coupons to be used Sept. 8 through 12, in the week before Sharefest’s main events on Sept. 12 and 13. The coupon entitles the user to get a sandwich for $1 if they make a $2 donation to Sharefest. And the shop also pledged its continuing support for Sharefest in the future.

“From a funding standpoint, we were really starving. This is a wonderful benefit for us,” Cheney said.

Proceeds from both efforts will be used for Sharefest’s home makeover project that involves extensive repairs to a house at 717 Prairie St., New Lenox, which needs about $5,000 more to complete, he said.

Items are being collected through Sept. 13 at various locations, and everything will come together on Sept. 13 at Spencer School, 1711 Spencer Road, New Lenox. All items that have been donated will be given away from 9 am to 3 p.m. that day.

Anyone can participate in Sharefest. Drop-off points for books, food, pet supplies, clothes, home goods and items for troops are at St. Jude Church, 241 W. Second Ave.; Standard Bank and Trust, 456 Nelson Road; and the New Lenox Chamber of Commerce, 1 Veterans Parkway.

A new event this year is Dress for Success, where donations of gently used professional clothing will be accepted at these sites to be given away at Trinity Services in the Commons for those who may take part in a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 12. About 50 employers will be at the village hall to meet potential employees, and employment seminars will be held at the New Lenox Public Library.

In addition to the free exchange of goods on Sept. 13 at Spencer School, there will be a recycling collection of household hazardous waste materials, electronics, scrap metal and paper shredding.

Sharefest also includes a health and safety fair Sept. 13 — with free screenings, free dental and eye exams and a blood drive at the school — and connects people who need help with repairs and projects with volunteers.

To get more information on the projects, learn more about Sharefest or to volunteer, visit www.sharefestnewlenox.com, www.facebook.com/sharefest.newlenox, email info@sharefestwillcounty.com. or call (815) 717-2614.



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