Organizations feeding the body and the soul will be this year’s recipients of money from LemonAid.

The Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry and Providing Instruments for the Next Generation, known around town as PING!, were selected by residents in the 700 block of Bonnie Brae, the home of River Forest’s annual 9/11 charity event since its inception in 2002.

As has been the case for the past 15 years, LemonAid will take place Sept. 11 from 3 to 7 p.m. on Bonnie Brae, situated between Chicago Avenue and Oak Street.

Plans for a ceremony, entertainment and other details are in the works, said Patty Henek, one of the event’s founders.

One element they will definitely be prepared for is the turnout, which could be higher as LemonAid will fall on a weekend, Henek said. Last year’s guesstimated crowd was 3,000, based on the number of cups they went through, she said. That didn’t include the uncounted crowd who drove up along Chicago to drop off donations, people who didn’t sip lemonade or who just walked through and donated. Last year’s event raised around $37,000.

Turnout could also be strong because of the groups that will benefit. The Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry, with a well-known support base and where the need is crucial, will use the money to provide lunches at open summer meals programs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Forest Park and Beye School in Oak Park. Money also will help cover the cost of breakfast and lunch for students attending programs at Oak Park and River Forest High School and lunch for youngsters attending Oak Park Education Foundation efforts.

This is the second time around for the Food Pantry, which was one of LemonAid’s first beneficiaries. Michelle Zurakowski, the organization’s director, is thrilled to see support again this year.

“It comes at a good time. We are hopeful we are making a difference for… kids,” she said. 

Not as well-known a community institution is PING! The organization lends instruments to students, enrolled in school music programs, who are eligible for the federal free or reduced lunch program or are foster children.  The effort is based in Oak Park.

Proceeds could be used in a variety of ways from upgrading instruments for advanced string and wind players to providing music camp scholarships to students next year, said Barb Hickey, PING!’s liaison to River Forest and a District 90 board member.

“That’s great! We are thrilled to be chosen to participate in LemonAid,” said Judy Weik, president of the organization’s board of directors. 

Deborah Kadin

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