Greenville community dinner a success

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 9:47 am on Thursday, December 29, 2011

About 100 volunteers helped with the community dinner that Opportunities for Success put together for those who go without a traditional feast during the holiday season. Volunteers from left include Roger Coles, Cliff Gress, Fred Gradisher and Rick Peterson. Daily News/Kelli Ameling

GREENVILLE — Opportunities for Success had a solid turnout on Wednesday for its annual community dinner at Greenville High School.
The organization put on the dinner to help people who go without a holiday feast. Linda Van Houten, director of Student Services at Greenville Public Schools, said there are many families that rely on the schools to provide meals for their children and they struggle to provide for them when the students are not in school.
The dinner ran from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Opportunities for Success had a goal to help about 100 people with the dinner. Van Houten said about 130 people came to get a warm meal by about halfway through the event.
“It has been awesome,” she said. “I am very happy with the turnout.”
Van Houten said about 100 people volunteered with setup, cooking, serving and cleanup. All three levels of the girls basketball team were among the volunteers, said varsity coach Eric Nichols.
“It’s about giving back to the community,” Nichols said.
He believes the event exposed his players to a side of life they might not experience otherwise.
Nichols said some of his players were nervous about the unknown, although the girls were excited to volunteer. Some of the girls were concerned they would get emotional for the families.
Our Lady of Consolation Church in Rockford and St. Charles Catholic Church in Greenville partnered with Opportunities for Success to help make the event possible. The churches provided groceries to make 150 bags of staples to give needy families at the dinner.
School employees donated money to provide the ham and other items for the dinner. Van Houten said many people from the community donated money to the organization too.
“(With the donations) we were able to go to Save-A-Lot and buy gift cards for families as well,” she said. “Everyone was very generous.”

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