Assembling good will
But there are lots of families that need groceries first.
Janesville's GM plant became a temporary grocery warehouse Saturday morning as employees and their families stepped up to meet that need.
More than 450 people assembled grocery bags and delivered them to families in need in the state line area. The annual grocery giveaway began in 1978.
General Motors employees nominate families who need a hand during the holiday season, said Jeff Miller, of the event organizers. This year 340 families made the list. That's 20 more families than last year—even though there are 1,000 less employees at the plant than there were last year, Miller said.
"The demand is growing," he said.
Miller cross checks the list with the Salvation Army and ECHO to ensure families only get food baskets from one organization.
GM employees passed a hat and gave their own money to fund the event. Combined with donations from local businesses, event organizer Marv Wopat spent $18,000 at Woodman's in Janesville. Woodman's kicked in an extra $2,000 as well as a $2,000 in kind donation.
That made quite a mountain of potatoes, cereal, milk, cake mix, vegetables and toilet paper.
Each family received six bags of groceries, personally delivered by a GM employee. Families with children also received toys collected by the Pegasus motorcycle group.
-- Is the number of families in need growing or is it the same as it's always been?
"Yes, it's growing. It's because of a loss of jobs in the city of Janesville and all over. It's the economy."—Joel Appel, UAW Workers Compensation representative.
"When people have to pay more for health insurance, they can't pay for food. There's a need every day of the year, but this time of year you feel it more strongly."—Janice Hodges, South Beloit, Ill., air conditioning installation
"Yes, it's growing. There are people that have jobs but they pay a minimum and families are just squeaking by. And there are the elderly, who have to choose between buying food and groceries."— Terry Sebero, Janesville, second shift inspection
"It's the same as it always has been. You will always have needy families."—Fred Noreik, Janesville, heavy repair
-- What motivates you to get out of bed on a cold Saturday morning to volunteer?
"It's when you deliver groceries and see the surprise and gratitude on people's faces. It kind of chokes you."— Sebero
"It's a great thing for us to do as a family, to do something for another family."—Margie Noreik, Janesville, whose dad, Fred Noreik works at GM
"Because it's fun and it makes you feel good. Because it's very well organized. And there's always a need."—Joan Singstock, Orfordville, who has a friend that works at GM
By the numbers
-- Number of volunteers:
-- Families receiving groceries: 340
-- Number of recipient families when the event started in 1978: 3
-- Bags of groceries: 2,040
-- Grocery bill: $22,000
-- Number of bags per family: 6, which should be two weeks’ worth of groceries.
-- Cost per family: $64.70.
-- Ham: $1,384