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Cyclists "Crank" Out Groceries for Shields Township Food Pantry

Event puts a new spin on shopping with a purpose by bringing in 239 pounds of food items.

Shopping was never so much fun for 10-year-old Sheridan Young.

The Lake Bluff youngster pulled up in front of in downtown Lake Bluff with her yellow buggy overflowing with groceries.

“It was so fun shopping!” said Sheridan. 

Her dad, Jim Young, took his cue from his daughter. Smart dad.

“She pointed me in the right direction,” said Jim Young.   

Carrying in 69.6 pounds of grocery items, the Youngs captured the most weight category in last Saturday’s inaugural "Cranksgiving" to stock the shelves of the .

For their efforts, the father-daughter team received a free bicycle tune-up by ’s pro mechanic, Nate Perkins.

The nearly 70 pounds was almost one-third of the 239 total pounds of food collected by cyclists. "Cranksgiving" is a volunteer bicycling activity where participants of all ages meet at a specific starting point, are given a wish list of items needed at the local food pantry, as well a map of stores to bicycle to for shopping. The recommended spending amount is between $10 and $20.

Cyclist return to the starting point with bikes packed with purchased items. They share refreshments, shopping stories and the weigh-in. Prizes are handed out for various categories, such as largest weight and best costume.

Cranksgiving originated in New York City in 1999 by a bike messenger. It is now held annually across the country in many large cities.  

Cranksgiving came to upon the suggestion of Lake Bluff bike enthusiast and designer Marcus Norman, who approached Nick Christofalos, owner of , with the idea of holding a small, family-friendly Cranksgiving activity.

“Cranksgiving seemed like a good way of showing how the bike is a great way to accomplish simple errands, like going to the grocery store. But most of all it is about having a great time for a good cause,” said Christofalos.

When cyclists arrived back at last Saturday, they realized that the large box supplied by Shields Township wouldn’t be big enough for all the donations.

Norman, with daughters Rose, 15, and Isabelle, 12, were the first ones back with more than 53 pounds stuffed into four separate backpacks.

“Looks like Santa’s helpers,” said Christofalos.

“We talked about the items selected,” said Norman. “We worried about exceeding our budget, but then again we wanted the weight, but would then have to carry all of it back on the bike. It was a lot of fun.”

Lake Bluff resident Heather Wojda, mother of 6-year-old Jonathan and 11-year-old Gabe explained how they got caught up in the enthusiasm of the activity.

“It was a race to the grocery store, and who would get their items first, and then we bought more then we intended, but we had a blast,” said Wojda, who was glad to see such an activity offered in Lake Bluff.

“There are not that many activities to do where we can all volunteer as a family together,” said Wojda.

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