[Hpn] High school pals fought hunger; now it's their children's turn

wtinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 14 Jul 2002 08:27:55 -0400


Chicago Tribune | High school pals fought hunger; now it's their children's
turnMeghan Mutchler Deerin
Published July 14, 2002

Alarmed by news accounts of babies going hungry in Chicago during the winter
of 1982, a group of old high school friends vowed to do something to help.

"A doctor from Cook County Hospital was on television, talking about women
coming into the emergency room with babies suffering from malnutrition,"
said Dorothy Clarke. "There had been cutbacks in the WIC [the federally
funded Women, Infants and Children program that provides formula for needy
infants], and these women didn't have enough food for their children."

Over a New Year's Day lunch, she and four fellow alumnae from the Immaculata
High School class of '49 launched Infant Inc., a non-profit charity that
provides emergency supplies of infant formula to area shelters and food
pantries.

Soon, several other high school pals volunteered to help. The local Jewel
gave the women a modest discount on formula, which the women loaded into
vans and delivered to various organizations across the city.

"We knew what we were doing was somewhat of a Band-Aid and thought, 'Oh,
well, it's a temporary problem, and they'll figure this out soon,'" said
Clarke, president of Infant Inc. "We thought we'd do it for a year."

Now, 19 years later, the women are in their 70s and still collecting
donations, loading cases of formula into vans once a month and distributing
it to more than 40 agencies.

Through the years, Infant Inc. has raised almost $1 million and delivered
nearly 46,000 cases of formula for needy infants as well as more than 700
layettes, which they've begun providing to babies in homeless shelters. With
operating costs of less than 2 percent, nearly all the money raised is used
to buy formula and layette items.

"We have almost no expenses because we do all the purchasing and delivering
and solicit only by direct mail," said Clarke, who runs the charity out of
her home.

It's a heavy burden on the aging founders, so now their daughters are
lending a hand.

"We hate to see it go away, because they have done such a beautiful job,"
said Fran Snyder of Lombard, 42, daughter of one of the founders.

"When I met their daughters, I was so happy this is not something that's
going to die out," said Sister Janice Dwyer, director of social services at
Marillac House, which operates a day care, food pantry and thrift shop as
well as programs for teens and the elderly on the West Side.

Donations should be sent to Infant Inc., 6926 N. Kolmar Ave., Lincolnwood,
IL 60712. For information, call Dorothy Clarke at 847-674-3217.


Copyright  2002, Chicago Tribune