Serving Up Hope This Holiday Season

By: Karin Woodside Last Updated: December 6, 2013

No one should ever have to experience hunger and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is working hard to bring hope to those in need this holiday season. With the support of NIPSCO, the second Hope for the Holidays fundraiser week kicked off December 2nd, raising money to help make this Christmas bright for the many who go without this basic necessity.

The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana reaches Lake and Porter Counties,” said NIPSCO External Communications Manager Kathleen Szot. “What they do is important year round; during the holiday times even more so. This event is really to build awareness for the Food Bank. Their reach is so important.”

Hunger is a silent epidemic that greatly affects the region. “There are over 106,000 people between the two counties that are going hungry every year,” stated Megan Sikes, Communication Manager for the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. “We want to make sure we can give some hope for the holidays to those who are in need, make sure they can have a nice family dinner as well.

NIPSCO kick started the event with a donation of $20,000, to get people excited and motivated,” Szot continued. “We will also be lending a hand at two of the upcoming stops for the mobile food pantry.” The stops will take place at the Ivy Tech Valparaiso campus on December 14 and the Radisson on December 21. “We will help serve food, load and unload- whatever the Food Bank needs!

The week’s events culminated with a special Guest Server Breakfast at Jelly’s Pancake House in Merrillville on December 6th. Local “celebrities,” from mayors to business owners and coaches, put on their aprons and served up breakfast to Jelly’s patrons, while informing guests about the hunger issues that the region faces. 15% of the proceeds from the breakfast, and all of the tips collected by the special guest servers, will go to help the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana purchase food for the two Christmas giveaways this year.

Jim Stanley, NIPSCO CEO, put on his serving apron and waited tables at the breakfast, as one of the special Guest Servers. “This is an example of how we at NIPSCO like to plug into the community and find ways to help,” he shared. “We’re a company that firmly believes if you’re going to work in a place and live in a place, you should find ways to give back. I’m blessed to work with employees that have good hearts.”

The fundraiser was particularly meaningful for another Guest Server, Robert Carnahan, Cedar Lake Town Councilman. Carnahan volunteers on a weekly basis at the Cedar Lake United Methodist Church’s Project Love Food Pantry, who most recently served 81 families in the area. “If we didn’t have a working relationship between the Food Bank and our communities, we couldn’t do what we do,” he shared.

Thanks to all of the week’s efforts, and the incredible donation from NIPSCO, the Food Bank has raised “enough to feed about 900 people between the two counties,” stated Sikes. “It’s great to see all of these different people coming together to support hunger relief!