View Full Version : Day off turns on North Chicago youth

01-20-09, 05:46 AM
Day off turns on North Chicago youth
Jr. ROTC students volunteer at food bank for MLK Day of Service

January 20, 2009
By FRANK ABDERHOLDEN fabderholden@scn1.com

Some kids just took the day off.

Others, more than a dozen from North Chicago High School's Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, decided they would make Martin Luther King Jr. Day their day on the job.

They showed up Monday morning at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Park City wearing T-shirts that read "Make it a day ON, Not a day OFF. MLK Day of Service." They helped to sort and pack food for the needy.

"We always put this day on our calendar," said retired Navy Chief Patricia Shipp, who brought students to the food bank for the third time in as many years.

She added that they were recruited by the Youth Conservation Corps as part of 13 day-of-service projects coordinated by YCC.

Other work sites have included Staben House, Lambs Farm, Lake County forest preserves, North Shore Church of Christ, Winchester House, First Congregational United Church of Christ, PADS Crisis Services locations, Countryside Association-Lakeside, VA Medical Center, Lake County Center for Independent Living, East Lake Management Group Inc., A Safe Place and the YMCA.

Elizabeth Avila, 18, of Great Lakes and Gustavo Alcaite, 16, of North Chicago sorted through donations of various meats and separated them. Avila will be going into the Marines soon.

"This is my second time volunteering here. I just really enjoy it," Avila said.

It was Alcaite's first time.

"It's fun. I'm getting something out of it," he said.

Schipp said many of the students have volunteered before. She likes to volunteer at the food bank because it is a large site and a lot more students can participate.

"I have about 160 kids. It allows me to bring more. It's very busy work, and they like to do it. I rarely have a problem getting enough volunteers," she said.

Jackie Rosado, 16, of North Chicago and Victor Velazquez, 13, of North Chicago were busy -- very busy -- making boxes for certain types of protein, like beef, chicken or pork.

"We made too many too fast. Now we just can't stop making them," Rosado said, joking with Velazquez.

She usually volunteers three times a year, and this past year she worked at Operation Christmas at the Veterans Administration Hospital in North Chicago, where they decorated Christmas trees. She also volunteered with Catholic Charities to wrap and hand out gifts to the needy.

"I'm looking forward to my community service ribbon," she said.

Velaquez was at the food bank for the first time, but the freshman has participated in seven projects. "I just like to help the community out. Plus I have fun with the ROTC program members."