Grace Sarkor and Parker English at their food drive last July. (Barbara Freeman photo)

Grace Sarkor and Parker English knew their latest food drive had to be done differently.

The two Evanston Township High School graduates ran a couple of in-person drives over the summer, when the coronavirus pandemic had diminished enough that it was safe to distribute bags of groceries in the high school parking lot.

Now, with COVID-19 spiking, and everyone supposed to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, a drive-in, pick-up distribution is not safe. “But,” Sarkor says, “we still wanted to help out, because it will be extremely rough for people this year.”

So she and English have put their “Evanston Gives Back” campaign online, with a Go Fund Me account. Money raised will provide $50 gift cards (sent virtually) to, they hope, 200 Evanston families, who can use the money to buy Thanksgiving meals, holiday presents, or just help meet day-to-day needs. Recipients are being selected by nonprofit agencies and by ETHS, Sarkor explains.

Sarkor, a 2015 ETHS grad, and English, Class of 2014, met and became friends on the school’s track team. Earlier this year, they donated $700 to a drive run by “My Hood, My Block, My City” in Chicago. “We talked,” Sarkor said, and agreed “we should bring something like this to Evanston.”

The two in-person drives raised $20,000, Sarkor says, and provided food for 600 families. “We didn’t realize how many people would be dropping off contributions or picking up food,” Sarkor says of the first food drive. It was both a pleasant surprise and a dramatic representation of the need.

Sarkor says she and English miss the volunteers who helped with the in-person food drive, but the pandemic makes that impossible. Still, she says, “I feel happy. It’s not just us. We couldn’t do this without the support of the Evanston community.”

As of mid-morning Tuesday, the Go Fund Me campaign had raised more than $2300. It can be accessed at

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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