Creekside Cares: Plainfield teacher helps needy families - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Creekside Cares: Plainfield teacher helps needy families stay fed

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Some teachers send their students home with backpacks full of homework each weekend, but a Plainfield teacher is helping more than 100 students go home with something else--filling their stomachs and not just their minds.

Jeff Peterson is a big man with an even bigger heart. Every Friday he helps send home backpacks full of food to needy kids from kindergarten through high school in Plainfield District 202, through a program he started at Creekside Elementary, called Creekside Cares.

"In January 2010 it started with eight kids and then by 2013, so in May 2013 we had our high of 160 students per week receiving nonperishable food items every week," Creekside teacher Jeff Peterson says.

Every Wednesday, a team of volunteers packs the food into grocery bags, working out of donated space at the Plainfield campus of Community Christian Church. This week, they are assembling 140 bags that will be distributed to 20 different schools.

The program helped Nikki Garvey get through last year after she lost her job.

"It's not easy accepting help, so, but we needed to and if I wanted to feed my kids, it's something we had to do at the time," Garvey says. "The appreciation that we have is I can't even put in words how grateful I am."

On Friday, 14 Creekside students took home backpacks. Volunteers love knowing they are making a difference.

"I had one little girl come up to me and big brown eyes and she came up to me and she said, ‘Are you with Creekside Cares?' And I said ‘yes I am.' And I knelt down to her level and she said I love my backpack every Friday," parent Lana Howe says.

"We want to be an encouragement to these families," Peterson explains. "We want to show compassion and truly show that we care about them outside of the school."

The food for Creekside Cares is all donated, mostly coming from food drives at schools in District 202.

For information on volunteering, donating, or helping to promote the cause, visit the Creekside Cares website and Facebook page.

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