About Us

The Self Help Closet & Pantry of Des Plaines is an independent, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors. It runs with a staff of 70 volunteers and one part-time employee serving as the Executive Director. The Pantry serves more than 400 households - all in the city of Des Plaines or with children in Des Plaines public schools.

Our Supporters

Local schools, churches, businesses, fraternal organizations, individuals and the City of Des Plaines provide the majority of food and financial support to the Pantry. The Pantry’s trademark “Red Barrels” can be seen in about 50 locations around town and serve as a convenient drop-off point to donate non-perishable food for those in need. Our Red Barrels also serve to remind us of the tremendous support our community provides to those in need.

Our History

In 1971, the Women’s Fellowship Circle of the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines established the Self- Help Closet & Pantry to offer food, clothing and small household items to help families of migrant workers adjust to life in this area. A small group of about ten women operated the Pantry in the church basement for several years. In 1987, the Pantry established itself as an independent, not-for-profit organization. As the client base increased, the Pantry has moved its facility several times to the present location at 769 Holiday Lane, Des Plaines IL 60016.

Board of Directors and Staff

Steve Pokrak, President

Randy Johnson, Vice President

Dorothea Stoll, Treasurer

Christine Troglio, Secretary

Holly Wilson, Corresponding Secretary

Ray Bartel

Joan Bucaro-Lopez

Rev. George Schelter

Executive Director

Debbie Walusiak


Food Pantry solicitors on corner - NOT US

Occasionally you will see people wearing FOOD PANTRY vests soliciting donations from drivers at Lee and Oakton and other busy intersections. The Self-Help Closet and Pantry of Des Plaines is NOT related to these groups who are from towns that don't serve our citizens. Our volunteers will NEVER be standing on street corners soliciting donations.