Women carve out important niche on Super Bowl weekend

By Tina Johansson
Special to the Lake Forester

February 7, 2012 11:18AM

Lake Forest Saturday, 2/4/12

Sharon Narrod (Right) of Highland Park drops off a donation during Saturday’s “Women Helping Women!” event at Sunset Foods in Lake Forest. (Left is Debi Leer, of Grayslake. Center is Julie Morrison, of Deerfield.) Catholic Charities and NICASA were collecting personal care items and cash donations at the store. | Brian O’Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 7, 2012 12:11PM

Shoppers at Sunset Foods in Lake Forest reached out for woman-kind, buying and bringing in loads of female toiletries and baby items in an endeavor organized by three Lake County women.

Mary Ellen Vanderventer, Lake County recorder of deeds; Julie Morrison, West Deerfield Township supervisor; and Sandy Hart, vice president of Lake Bluff Park’s board of commissioners; worked as a tag team, taking turns at the collection site set up at the grocery store on Saturday.

Five large bins wound up being filled with everything from toothbrushes to deodorant to baby diapers. Items either were brought from homes or purchased right in the store and donated. Some gave monetary donations.

“We wanted to have this now because we knew it would be a very, very busy shopping day. It’s the day before the Super Bowl,” said Morrison.

Vanderventer started out the event, setting up near the entrance at 9 a.m.

While mostly women gave to the cause — the items go to the Northern Illinois Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse and to Catholic Charities — some men joined in to help too.

Vanderventer was thrilled about an early cash donation given from an anonymous shopper shortly after she set up shop.

“The man declined to fill out a donation form, so I put the (money) box in front of him, turned away, and he dropped something into it,” said the recorder. “It was very kind for him to do that.”

Another man graciously came back with a bottle of hand lotion he had just purchased after doing some shopping for himself, said Morrison.

‘Very generous’

“Every little bit helps. All the food pantries are saying they at the bottom of the barrel, and they really need these things,” said Vanderventer. A representative from NICASA was on hand part of the day. Catholic Charities was to pick up their donations on Monday, said Morrison. The cash collected is to be divided between the organizations.

“People have been very generous,” said Morrison. “They are already aware of the two agencies and the great work they do.”

Those of all ages came to give, including 9-year-old Abby Rich of Riverwoods, who was with her mother, Mary. She dropped off a bag containing several boxes of Kleenex and a pack of diapers. “It’s helping women and the world get what they need,” the said the student at Wilmot Elementary in Riverwoods.

Abby’s mom said the girl has had a heart for giving for a long time. “In fact, on her own, she started collecting money at her school for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Mary who noticed some plastic cups missing from the house.

“I put the cups all over the school with signs on them and kids have been dropping in their change. I hope to get at least $10 for Make-A-Wish. So far there’s about $5.25,” said Abby.

Lake Bluff resident Teta Minuzzo dropped off a number of items, including toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner. “I know that this is very important, so I gathered some things from home and brought them here,” she said.

Lake Forest shopper Carol Herrmann said she was pleased to see the collection site. “I volunteer for the food pantry at the old St. Bartholomew Church in Waukegan. We find that it’s mostly women and children in need, and the numbers are increasing. We’re getting people from Zion and Winthrop Harbor, because their food pantries are closing,” she said.

Morrison said she is hopeful the trio will be able to have another collection event.

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