When University of St. Francis (USF) freshman Lauren Bryson, of Grayslake, saw the look on a five-year-old child's face when there wasn't enough for breakfast at the DayBreak shelter where she was volunteering in Joliet, it broke her heart.
Bryson turned to fellow USF freshman Emma Bormet, who was also volunteering that day, and they immediately knew they had to do something.
"The sad thing was that when the shelter ran out of food, the people waiting for their meal didn't seem surprised; they just accepted it," said Bormet, of New Lenox. "So many people need help, and when Lauren and I saw the pantry was just about bare we got an idea."
Campus food drive
The women went back to USF's Joliet campus and talked to a professor about wanting to organize a food drive within their class. With the encouragement of their professor, they made it a campus-wide effort.
"It was exciting that a little idea turned into a big one," said Bryson, who was a 2011 regional finalist in the Chicago Metro History Fair competition for her project, "Unfair to Well Aware: The Pullman Strike’s Effect on Society Today" when she was a junior at Grayslake North High School.
"I was thrilled to be able to pack my car with the food that was donated by the generosity of the USF community and present it to DayBreak," said Bryson.
Bormet said the shelter was surprised by what she and Bryson did.
"We were able to replenish the shelter's food pantry," said Bormet, whose major is nursing. "It really made me feel good to turn a bad situation into a more positive one."
Bryson said that the experience really made her appreciate what she has.
"Even though we were able to donate a lot of food on behalf USF, I know it's still not enough because there are so many hungry people," said Bryson, a political science major. "I was surprised by the amount of homeless children. It really does make you appreciate what you have."
Submitted by the University of St. Francis, with additional reporting from the Grayslake Patch.