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From lip balm to bath soap: FISH Pantry need not just for food

FISH Food Pantry volunteers help sort food stack shelves Carpentersville facility this week. | ErSauder for Sun-Times Media

FISH Food Pantry volunteers help sort food and stack shelves at the Carpentersville facility this week. | Erin Sauder for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 28, 2014 7:37AM

CARPENTERSVILLE — For those in need, personal care items such as shampoo, toothpaste and lip balm can be hard to come by, even if they’re receiving assistance from food pantries.

That’s because when it comes to donations, people tend to think of only food, said Mary Graziano, director of the FISH (Friend, I Shall Help) Food Pantry in Carpentersville.

“Those clients who are fortunate enough to receive the Link card cannot purchase such items with the card,” she said. “And, of course, if they don’t qualify for a Link card, it’s even more difficult.”

Frequent requests this time of the year by clients are for body lotion and lip balm. But the items most needed generally include baby diapers and wipes, followed by toothpaste, shampoo, bath soap and feminine products.

For the third year in a row, members of the Rotary Club of Carpentersville-Morning are undertaking an effort to make sure the FISH Food Pantry shelves are stocked with those items.

Throughout the entire month of February, the club will host a toiletries drive. Items needed include toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, lip balm, facial tissue (boxes), dish soap, body wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste, adult and child diapers, disposable razors, shaving cream, feminine products, and pet food.

“When we originally started to work with the FISH Food Pantry a few years back, they brought to our attention their need for toiletry items after the holiday season, which is usually when they receive and give the most,” said James Olvera, president of the Rotary Club of Carpentersville-Morning. “Food and monetary donations are the most common for them, which left little for replenishing the few toiletry items they had and were desperately need by the families they help.”

Rotary members decided that instead of focusing on collecting food items, they would host the February toiletries drive.

“Working with our contacts and contributions made by individual club members, each year has been slightly better than the previous in the amount of donations made, which we are very proud about,” Olvera said.

In addition to collecting and donating items, Rotary members also volunteer at the pantry on the last Wednesday of the month in February to help distribute the toiletry and food items to the families that day.

“Granted, we always don’t get a chance to see the people we help, but events like this bring you closer to those in need and experience the gratefulness created from the help they receive,” Olvera said.

The FISH Food Pantry serves residents who live in Dundee Township and portions of Gilberts. Last year, the pantry helped more than 500 families per month.

Items can be donated Feb. 1-25 at First American Bank, 261 S. Western, Carpentersville; First American Bank, 218 W. Main St., West Dundee; and Main Street Bicycles, 39 E. Main St., Carpentersville; or by contacting the Rotary at to schedule a pickup.

Items also can be dropped off at the pantry from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The pantry is at 150 S. Kennedy Drive (Route 25). Donations can be mailed to PO Box 102, Carpentersville, IL 60110.

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