While Thanksgiving is a once-a-year event, our Board and Committee work year-round to plan, fund-raise, coordinate and get everything ready for a smooth event. With 2,000 families fed in 2019, we decided that 2020 families for 2020 had a great ring to it.
When the Pandemic began in early 2020, we truly worried that donations and philanthropy would be a casualty of budget cuts and survival. As we all sheltered-at-home, we quickly realized that the NEED in 2020 was FAR MORE than in years past, and we determined that no matter what happened, even if we were just loading boxes into our own vehicles, that we were going to do everything we could to deliver meals to everyone that we could, whether that was 2020 meals, or just 20.
As the virus raged on, and kept us apart far longer than any of us had imagined, we continued to meet (via Zoom of course) and plan as if our goal of 2020 families was GOING TO HAPPEN (spoiler alert, it did!).
As we kept putting out positive energy, positive things kept happening. As Tony Robbins says “where focus goes, energy flows.” We have since dubbed 2020, The Year of Serendipity. Opportunities kept opening up, donors and corporate sponsors continued to amaze us, and one of our board members almost literally ran his feet off to fund-raise in his “10 Marathons in 10 Days.”
We are immensely grateful to the Salvation Army and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, who helped us to both lower our food costs, and provide the fully-assembled baskets, as social-distancing guidelines simply did not allow for us to put several hundred volunteers in the same room for our beloved Assembly Day.
Given the unpredictable nature of the virus, we put in plans to make sure that we could load up our drivers completely outdoors, masked up, and socially-distanced. Illinois weather was another challenge to overcome, so we purchased 4 oversized tents (which was WAY less expensive than renting a big Circus tent; trust us, we looked!), and made plans to keep no more than 10 volunteers assigned as “ground crew” at each tent, masked and distanced, and keep the balance of our volunteer driver teams and families IN their vehicles.
Which was all great until Illinois dropped back a Phase, and limited our previously-planned location from allowing us to use the space one week before the event. Thankfully, through some great partnerships with School District U-46, and the Village of Hanover Park, we literally had a new location within six hours! Serendipity. And did we mention the dreaded Illinois Weather? It was beautiful. Again, serendipity.
So all said and done, we not only met our goal our goal of 2020 families, but we actually exceeded it, and delivered 2,200 meals, feeding over 11,000 local friends and families. Serendipity.