Between Friends Food Pantry sponsors toy, book drive

By on November 28, 2013

by Natalie Juns

SUGAR GROVE—Many are blessed with plenty of food, the warmth and protection of a home, and an abundance of presents around the holidays for giving and receiving. But there are people in our community who are in need of help this holiday season.

Three years ago, Rachel Rockwell-Muckerheide started the Toy and Book Drive for Mutual Ground Shelter in Aurora for abused women and children. Last year, Rockwell-Muckerheide decided to establish the Toy and Book Drive as a local charity that benefits the people registered with Between Friends Food Pantry, located at 52 Wheeler Road in Sugar Grove.

The collaboration with the Between Friends Food Pantry last year was extremely successful. The Sugar Grove community collected between 3,000 to 4,000 books and toys combined, and the donations supplied gifts for over 75 children between the ages of 3 and 18. Rockwell-Muckerheide attributes most of the Toy and Book Drive’s success to the moms in the community who collect the dropped off items.

“Once the items are all dropped off, I collect the items and bring them to the Food Pantry,” Rockwell-Muckerheide said. “People who are in need are able to register with the Between Friends Food Pantry and benefit from the Toy and Book Drive. It’s great for the people who are in need, because they are able to shop for free at the food pantry before Christmas.”

The two Thursdays before Christmas, Dec. 12 and 19, are the designated days for registered persons to pick up donated presents. The Between Friends Food Pantry is open on Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Pat Graceffa, a Sugar Grove resident who volunteers for the drive, commented about the success of last year’s event.

“Thanks to the kindness of this community, the Toy and Book Drive has become very successful,” she said. “I hope people join again to make this the best year yet. Rachel is to be complimented for her hard work on this project.”

Residents and community members will be able to drop off their donations Dec. 2-9 at one of the specified drop off locations. If you are interested in contributing a donation, you can contact Rachel Rockwell at

The Toy and Book Drive is in need of items for both girls and boys, ages 3 to 18, but it currently has a shortage of items for boys. However, community members are encouraged to donate the gifts they have in mind, whether it be for a girl, boy or gender neutral.