Each spring, Beyond Hunger, formerly Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry, relies on the Can Do Community Challenge to help raise critical funds to feed hungry neighbors.

This year, we worried. Would community members, concerned for their own financial health be able to help? Would we be able to continue to support our programs? 

We are grateful and proud to report that our community rallied — and how. 

We have seen inspiring involvement across the board. School competitions raised more than any previous year, over $30,000 and still counting. Businesses, new and established, put the needs of others at the top of their ledgers. Congregations meeting virtually kept the hungry in their prayers and their collection plates. Individuals dug deep to help those in need. By the end of the Can Do Community Challenge, our worries were put to rest. The $100,000 goal was surpassed by 50 percent and we received a $25,000 match from the Challenge Corp. 

We’ve been moved to tears by personal efforts big and small. Notes on donations mentioned a gift being made because someone mowed a lawn, made a mask, taught others to bake bread, or provided a birthday sign. People used their birthdays to host social media fundraisers. Backyard Family Marathons and Miles for Meals Fitness Challenges. Students creating cookbooks. So many notes of encouragement. 

It’s humbling to be included in such breathtaking acts of kindness. We all feel wrapped in the arms of community care. 

We know there is an avalanche of need still coming. But more than ever we also know that we are strong together. 

Thank you.

Michele Zurakowski

Executive director, Beyond Hunger

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