BY JENNIFER BAILEY
DANVILLE — A new community project is to connect those who can help with those who need help in Vermilion County.
The Neighbors Helping Neighbors Project will kick-off Monday with a free meal.
Downtown Danville, Inc. has signed on to be a part of the planning committee to get this new community project up and running. Organizers will start the new project with a free meal starting at 1 p.m. Monday at the Downtown Danville Banquet House, 38 N. Vermilion St.
Chef Mary Lewis will cook a variety of items to help launch the project. The meal is open to the public, and food will be served until 4 p.m. or until supplies run out.
If anyone knows someone in need of a hot meal or maybe some company from a new neighbor, let them know they can stop in. No reservations are necessary.
In 2013, DDI will focus more on helping neighbors as part of this new community initiative.
The initiative started this fall with several volunteers coming together with the goals of establishing a volunteer database for the Vermilion County area and to connect those who can help with those who need help.
The group’s first project is collecting items for the Crosspoint Domestic Violence and Transitional Shelter Services. Items needed include twin set bedding, new pillows, plastic pillow covers, bath towels and wash cloths.
DDI also is conducting a food drive through the end of the month. Food contributed during the annual drive will help stock the shelves at the Danville Township Food Pantry, located in downtown Danville.
Drop non-perishable food items off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the DDI office at 149 N. Vermilion St. through the end of January.
Schaumburg said the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Project started out with her and a friend talking about how some agencies have specific needs and people are willing to help and volunteer on several projects throughout the year.
The project would put volunteers and agencies together.
“It is to connect people with people and resources who need it,” Schaumburg said. “There’s a lot of caring people in this community.”
The group will keep a database of interested volunteers. There also is a Facebook page for more information and volunteer opportunities.
Schaumburg said of the women’s shelter’s needs that when many women leave a bad situation they generally don’t come to the shelter with a lot of items. The group also has tote bags to give to the women, too.
During the first year, Neighbors Helping Neighbors hopes to have at least quarterly projects.
Pat Bowers, volunteer coordinator for the Fischer Theatre and a DDI volunteer, and Jamie Davis, with the American Red Cross, also are involved.
“It’s just trying to pull resources into a more organized effort, Schaumburg added.
Bowers said the project grew out of some different needs.
Cher Pollock, president of the board overseeing the Fischer Theatre, told others about some problems with getting linens and other items at the women’s shelter.
Bowers said volunteers then thought since they were all downtown they should all help one another when a problem arose.
Lewis, on the DDI board, also has a freezer full of meat and said she’d like to feed the homeless.
“One thing led into another,” Bowers said of the free meal as a kick-off for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors project.
Bowers said the free lunch is for anybody. Other people are chipping in with side dishes.
Bowers said some people might not know how to volunteer with an organization. A person can be added to the volunteer database.
“It will be a tool,” Bowers said.
To find out more about Neighbors Helping Neighbors projects or to make a donation, contact Dana Schaumburg at 443-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be placed on the Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteer database or to have local volunteer opportunities sent out to the volunteer database, contact Pat Bowers at 443-6710 or email@example.com.