This holiday season, Optima is giving back to our community through a food drive for Lakeview Pantry. We’re excited to engage with a neighborhood institution near and dear to the Lakeview community and to play our role in their mission to end hunger in Chicago.
Lakeview Pantry celebrated their 50th anniversary this year, having been in operation since 1970. A small and dedicated group of neighbors began the initiative as The People’s Pantry of Lakeview, serving nearly 100 people in their first year. Since then, the pantry has grown to a team of 30 staff and 5,000 volunteers, providing nearly 4 million meals to 100,000 individuals in 2020. Lakeview Pantry has also adapted their services to meet the needs of the community, incorporating Online Market orders and community pop-ups alongside critical social services such as mental health counseling, job search support and crisis intervention.
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, our office is doing its part to collect food donations in-office which will be dropped off at the pantry. It’s important to us to contribute to local causes, especially around the holiday season, when everybody deserves a full belly and a full heart. Last year, we collected food for Deerfield Pantry alongside pet food for Meals on Wheels in Northeastern Illinois.
As we continue progress on Optima Lakeview, we look forward to discovering more ways to give back to our new community in the future.
As part of our commitment to building strong communities, we often turn our efforts outward and partner with local businesses and nonprofits that share our beliefs and passions. Recently, our teams in Arizona and Illinois both rallied and collaboratively supported a cause together, volunteering with Feed My Starving Children.
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating child hunger in both body and spirit. Their organization believes that hope starts with food, and coordinates with food distribution partners that stay with communities for the long haul, empowering them to move from relief to development. By providing proper nourishment and nutrition to children in need, FMSC is unlocking their full potential, helping children grow and thrive.
On Thursday, February 13, thirteen Optima team members from offices in Arizona and Illinois volunteered at their respective locations. Over the course of the day, we assembled food donations and packed 164 boxes bound for communities in need, providing 35,424 meals. These meals will be enough to feed 96 children for an entire year. In addition to dedicating our time, our team made a donation that will feed three families for one year.
Our team members cherished the experience. Heather Williams, Community Manager at Optima Kierland Center in Arizona said, “Volunteering with Feed My Starving Children was an eye-opening experience. It’s heartbreaking to think about the number of children and adults that face starvation as a reality. The work this organization is doing to help feed families across the globe is inspiring and I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute in a small way.”
Tarryn deKock from the People Experience team in Glencoe agreed, “It was such a rewarding, fun, feel good day spent with my team members, giving back to those less fortunate. I felt so grateful for what we have and how lucky we are!”
To learn more about Feed My Starving Children and how you can help end childhood hunger, visit their website here.
As part of our commitment to the built and natural environments, our team regularly organizes outings that give back to the community. Not only do these opportunities allow us to create meaningful impact, but they serve as team-building and bonding exercises, as well. Most recently, we took a trip out to local Skokie Lagoons to help keep the area clean.
Skokie Lagoons are just a short drive from our Glencoe office. An 894-acre destination, the lagoons are the premier spot for both people and wildlife, offering critical natural habitats and the chance for visitors to appreciate the outdoors through canoe and kayak rentals, biking and hiking trails and picnic areas.
To help restore the area with healthy woodland, savanna and prairie habitats, Skokie Lagoons relies upon volunteers to regularly remove invasive plants such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and Canada thistle.
Working with the Cook County Forest Preserve, our team joined the Shedd Aquarium for a Great Lakes Action Day to help restore the local habitat and encourage amphibians and other wildlife to thrive. We cut and burned the thick and concentrated invasive buckhorn brush to make room for native flora and fauna.
To learn more about the Skokie Lagoons and how you can support wildlife restoration, visit their website.