By CARL GREEN
Wood River – The “Snacks to Go” project of Metro-East Labor groups to help hard-stressed hospital workers kept on rolling last week with more donations, more purchases and more deliveries – and a lot of thankful people.
With the total of cash and donations topping well over $17,000 and final gifts still straggling in, Labor leaders remained surprised and delighted at the strength of the project, hastily commenced in April.
The hospital workers have been working long days and hours and don’t always have time for meals, so the “snacks” are part of what’s keeping them going.
“It’s been pretty awesome,” said B. Dean Webb, president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor. “It was a good run for the short period of time we had to put this all together.”
He thanked the United Way Labor Liaisons to the Metro-East, Nick Dodson, Terry Biggs and Terry Knoth, for their hard work and organizing skills in making the story a success. “These guys did great,” he said.
Last Thursday (May 21), Webb, Biggs and Dodson went on another shopping spree, this time at the Wood River Schnucks store, for items to be taken the following Tuesday to Alton’s two main hospitals and Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis.
Webb, Dodson and Biggs met at the store with masks in place to load a pickup truck with groceries purchased at cost in an arrangement made by the United Food and Commercial Workers and packed by UFCW members working at the store.
“After we separate these among the hospitals, we’re going to pick up some more fruit – oranges, apples, maybe some bananas and pears,” Webb said at the loading dock out back. “We’ll get them out Tuesday.”
“We’re spending the remaining dollars that we have – it’s probably going to be the end of it,” he added. “If there are some other checks that trickle in, we’ll take the money and make sure somebody gets it. We’ll definitely spend whatever we get.”
The project has been led by the Federation, the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council and the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. Gathering points were the Machinists’ Hall in East Alton, where the Federation meets, and the Laborers Local 459 hall in Belleville, where the Central Labor Council meets. The quick meals have been taken to a dozen hospitals around the Metro-East area, where they were eagerly put to good use by the front-line health workers.
CASH COMES THROUGH
While some food items were donated directly at the halls, the drive was powered by cash donations, including about $7,000 through a Go Fund Me donation site online and much more sent directly to the councils.
“Our goal on Go Fund Me was $10,000,” Webb said. “We didn’t make that on Go Fund Me, but we got other cash donations. It was pretty awesome. It was a good run for the short period of time to put this all together.”
He noted the major contributions made by the Trades Council, led by its executive secretary-treasurer, Totsie Bailey. “Totsie and the Trades didn’t get a lot of credit, but they raised a lot of money,” Webb said. “They kind of left it to the central labor councils to get the food.
READY IF NEEDED
Scot Luchtefeld, president of the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council, went shopping on Friday with United way Labor Liaison Terry Knoth to pick up items for the hospitals in Red Bud and Sparta. He said the program would remain open in case it is needed again.
“We’re leaving Go Fund Me up in case we have to do it again. We may bring it back in fall or winter if the need is there.”
Luchtefeld said delivering to the hospitals made it clear to him what the project was all about.
“They were extremely grateful for getting the stuff,” he said. “It exceeded my expectations. It was a success all the way around.”
NOT TOO LATE TO HELP
Contributions are still being accepted and put to good use. Send checks with “Snacks to Go” on the envelope and memo line to:
- The Greater Madison County Federation of Labor Defense Fund, 161 N. Shamrock St., East Alton, IL 62024.
- The Southwestern IL Central Labor Council Workers Relief Fund, P.O. Box 8091, Belleville, IL 62222.
- The Southwestern IL Building Trades, 2-1 Meadow Heights Professional Park, Collinsville, IL 62234.