Community Volunteers

Volunteers fill in the gaps in any community. They dedicate their passion, energy and abilities to improving the world in which they live and the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce has a wealth of these generous people.

Lauren Trost of Two Men and A Truck

The Des Plaines-based Two Men and A Truck franchise is abundant with hard-working, well-intentioned people who enjoy helping others.

Each autumn, as part of a national effort called “Truckload of Warmth,” they collect new and gently-used winter clothes from customers and transport them to the Des Plaines Self-Help Closet. Families who visit the adjacent Des Plaines Food Pantry have the opportunity to “shop” through the available clothing for their families.

“Generally, the clothing we collect lasts almost the entire year,” said Lauren Trost, marketing coordinator for Two Men and A Truck.

The local franchise also participates in the “Movers for Moms” national drive to collect children’s clothing, held each spring, and the “Move for Hunger” effort to collect non-perishable food for the local pantry.

Beyond these national efforts, the local franchise transports donations and supplies each year for the Des Plaines Winter Garden Ball, which Trost chairs, and is generally willing to pick up and move anything the Des Plaines Chamber needs to transport.

Trost has been a member of the Des Plaines Chamber Board of Directors for the past three years and last year served as secretary of the Chamber’s executive board. She is also a member of the Scholarship Committee.

“It is part of our company’s core values to give back to the community. That is part of our franchise culture. In fact, nationally, we donate 10 cents from every move to the American Cancer Society and that adds up,” Trost said.

In 2015 Two Men and A Truck received the “Community Enhancement Award” from Mayor Matthew Bogusz during his Annual Address to Business.

Sharon Lynch of Century 21 Elm

Sharon Lynch of Century 21 Elm is a true mover and shaker in the Des Plaines community. In addition to being a successful local real estate agent for the past 24 years, she has been a member of the Community Consolidated School District 62 Board since 2004; was a Chamber Board member for eight years; is active in the Des Plaines Rotary Club; is a Chamber Ambassador who welcomes new members; and is an active member of the committee that plans and runs the Chamber’s Winter Garden Ball. She has also been a member of the Frisbee Senior Center Board of Directors since 2002 and regularly donates blood, considering it a true gift of life.

“I was on the team that helped the Senior Center secure and build out the Frisbee Center in the former commercial space on Northwest Highway,” Lynch recalled. “I’ve served as board president twice for the Frisbee Senior Center and the Rotary Club of Des Plaines and I’m an active member of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce, Rosemont Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Des Plaines, District 62 Foundation and District 62 Board of Education.”

Lynch helps buyers and sellers with their real estate needs in the north-west suburbs of Chicago, as well as the north side of Chicago. She has designations as a Certified International Property Specialist, Senior Real Estate Specialist and Certified Staging Consultant and has relationships with agents all over the country to help with real estate needs. Lynch credits her success to building relationships with people.

Bill Schoenberg of the Self-Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines

Bill Schoenberg grew up with friends in the Maine Township area who were always hungry – and he has never forgotten their plight.

So six years ago he joined the board of the Self-Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines (SHC&P) and is one of its 65 active volunteers. Schoenberg has served as the entity’s treasurer for five years and also procures and picks up food which he delivers to the pantry.

The self-help closet/food pantry has served the Des Plaines community since 1971. It currently rents space at 600 E. Algonquin Road from the city for $1 per year. It also applies for and generally receives funds from the municipal social services fund. Otherwise, however, they receive no government funding and are not tied to a larger entity like the Greater Chicago Food Depository. They rely entirely on the Des Plaines community for support of approximately 400 needy local households.

The pantry is, however, the sole Des Plaines recipient of the Letter Carriers’ Annual Food Drive, held each May, receiving 32,000 pounds of food last year. It also receives donations from the public (placed in red barrels staged all around the city) and from generous food stores like the Lee Street and Elmhurst Road Jewel/Osco stores, Mariano’s, Panera Bread and Jimmy John’s.

The Self-Help Closet portion of the operation provides the needy with clothing, supplied primarily by Des Plaines residents. Two Men and A Truck hosts an annual coat drive called “Truck Load of Warmth” and coats from the local franchise find their way to the Self-Help Closet. In addition, some families also take it upon themselves to donate multiple coats and other warm clothes for the needy.

“We really have a great donor base,” Schoenberg said.

Rebecca Banks of Rivers Casino

The range of charitable activities in which the Rivers Casino team involves itself is mind-boggling.

According to Rebecca Banks, senior human resources representative and community relations leader, the list ranges from preparing and serving food at soup kitchens in Des Plaines and Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, to raising funds from employees and patrons during month-long efforts for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization to Autism Speaks to the Alzheimer’s Association, and even to walking dogs at a local canine rescue facility.

Teams of casino employees also take their tables and their unique abilities on the road periodically to entertain seniors at the Frisbee Senior Center and the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital. They have also done a holiday talent show for Senior Center patrons and led cookie decorating classes there.

In addition, casino team members periodically get involved in fundraising walks for their partner organizations; participate in the “Chicago Cares” Day of Service each summer; pack food for the “Feed My Starving Children” organization in Schaumburg; make Veterans Day greeting cards for patients at Hines VA Hospital, thanking them for their service; and spread themselves far and wide on “Giving Tuesday” (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) to help at charitable organizations all over the metropolitan area.

Melissa Hill of Jewel-Osco

Jewel-Osco has a strong history of giving back to the community by contributing time, resources and financial donations to organizations that share our commitment to hunger relief, youth education, health & wellness, people with disabilities and veteran’s support, said Melissa Hill, director, public affairs & government relations.

The Jewel-Osco Foundation along with the support of their stores and employee volunteers work to address community concerns and find more ways for Jewel-Osco to make a positive impact in the communities they serve. They work directly with many local organizations including the Salvation Army, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Susan G. Komen, Special Olympics and USO of Illinois.

The cause of Hunger Relief is especially important to Jewel-Osco and a major focus of fundraising and giving. In 2017, the company donated more than 24 million pounds of food to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank and other local pantries and meal programs, including the Food Pantry of Des Plaines.

In addition, Jewel-Osco launched several programs during the holiday season that made the holidays brighter for people in need. The Holiday Bucks and Turkey Bucks programs allowed shoppers to purchase food or make a contribution to purchase food that would go directly to their local food bank or pantry. These efforts yielded more than $2 million in food donations to combat food insecurity during the holidays.

Jewel-Osco and the Jewel-Osco Foundation also supported education, cancer research, veterans support and programs for people with disabilities in 2017, contributing more than $2 million to these and other important areas of need. Most recently, they partnered with the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce to assist returning veterans find meaningful, rewarding employment and will do so again in 2018.