Letter: Impressed by DeKalb County Strong’s resourcefulness and services to community

To the Editor:

I recently had the pleasure of touring the DeKalb County Strong food pantry and other essential items dispensary out of Julie and James Zielinski’s home in Sycamore.

While they aren’t a registered nonprofit, they provide all of their services to the community for free and without requiring identification or proof of income, and they are powered simply by the generosity that is immediately evident when you meet them and hear the enthusiasm in their voices about the lives they are touching in a meaningful way.

Having worked in the domestic hunger relief field for several years, I was struck by the efficiency, cleanliness and care they take to organize and maintain health standards in the food, clothing and household items they provide at no cost to residents they serve.

More than this, they make a concerted effort to ensure anonymity for those who are understandably hesitant to ask for help. Pickups are by appointment only, guaranteeing privacy and increasing safety during the pandemic.

Imagine if more people in our communities opted to give of themselves so gratuitously for nothing in return, other than the altruistic knowledge that they have helped to close a gap in the community! You may be wondering how big of a gap? Well, last year they served 75 veteran families and 459 nonveteran families.

Being a lifelong resident of this area, I know how amazing the people in our communities are and that there are many others who would like to help but may not know how, particularly in times of such urgent need when they know neighbors are suffering.

To that end, Julie informed me that donations of shelf-stable and fresh perishable foods, diapers (newborn to age 6), pull-ups of all sizes and many more items are all in high demand. For a more exhaustive list, you can go to her Facebook pages by typing in “Free local community help from DeKalb County Strong” or at “Donations to DeKalb County Strong.” Finally, donations can even be dropped off at the Sycamore Vets Club, which partners with DeKalb County Strong. You also can call 331-234-6616 and leave inquiries about how to get help or help the efforts.

Sarah Slavenas