There are times when contributing to a good cause can take precedent over work or personal downtime.
This was the case recently for some members of the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technology. Department employees gave time to Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger and took part in the mobile food pantry program in collaboration with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana at Evangel Heights United Methodist Church in South Bend.
Program volunteers from Notre Dame spent a few hours, distributing food to dozens of residents, including milk, bread, meat, cheese, canned goods and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger is Notre Dame’s annual food drive. The group supports People Gotta Eat and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
Notre Dame’s program raised $27,850 and collected nearly 300 pounds of food for the two organizations in 2019.
“I feel like those of us at Notre Dame are just truly blessed, and there are so many people around us that are in need,” said Anne Kolaczyk, lead tech training specialist in OIT and chair of Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger. “That’s why we do the food drive every year.”
Kolaczyk said coworkers from her department sought a service project last fall and decided to join volunteers with Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger at the mobile pantry.
“We have a strong culture of community service” in OIT, Kolaczyk said, from collecting pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House, to raising money for breast cancer research and the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County.
With regular stops in areas of need around Elkhart, LaPorte, Marshall and St. Joseph and Starke counties, the food bank’s mobile pantries also provide a shopping experience for clients who have additional needs, or who struggle to access the organization’s regular network of pantries because of complications related to work and/or transportation.
The Evangel Heights pantry distributed 7,115 pounds of food to 117 households — the equivalent of about 47 meals per household — over the course of the morning, according to Marijo Martinec, executive director and CEO of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
“We are humbled by the commitment and passion Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger, Anne Kolaczyk and the (University of Notre Dame) Office of Information Technologies have for fighting hunger in our community,” Martinec said.