Naperville Couple Creates Hand Up Challenge With Pantry

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Naperville residents Nick and Teresa Ryan are providing a hand up for those in need.  The couple will match all cash donations to West Suburban Community Pantry until they reach a combined $100,000 over a 100-day period. The challenge started at the end of July, and they’ve collected about 20% of their goal so far.

Hand Up, Not Hand Out

The Ryans’ fund helps those who sometimes need a hand up in buying quality food.

“People don’t want a hand out,” Nick Ryan said.  “Most people, they want to work, they want to take care of themselves, they want to accomplish things, and this is a great way to give people a little extra boost so they can get to that place of independence and positive thinking, and move their family in a good direction.”

Recent Challenges

It also helps the pantry assist people facing tough challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the tornado that hit Naperville this summer.

“The Hand Up Fund that Nick and Teresa have started is really going to help those people get back on their feet,” according to Laura Coyle, the pantry’s executive director.

The pantry went from serving about 300 people a week to about 500 families a week at the height of the pandemic, and even now they struggle to secure items to meet demand.

People can donate pantry staples such as tuna cans, peanut butter, and spaghetti sauce, as well as family necessities like diapers and wipes.

Penthouse Prize

But those who donate cash through the hand up fund get that added dollar boost from the Ryans – and the chance for an added reward.

The Ryans are offering a weekend stay at their penthouse on Naperville’s riverwalk, and dinner for four at SixtyFour Wine Bar, to whoever gives the largest donation.

“If you’ve already donated, go back in and donate more, let’s raise that money,” Teresa Ryan said.

Every dollar donated allows the pantry to purchase $8 worth of food, and every hand up counts.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.

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