Help This Bremen Brave Collect 10,000lbs of Food

Help This Bremen Brave Collect 10,000lbs of Food
By: Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown

Dylan Gluszek is going big this holiday.

As if the 6,000-plus pounds of food he collected during last year’s holiday season wasn’t grand enough, this year he’s aiming for 10,000 pounds.

“I’m kind of stretching it. But with the following I built up and with the following I hope to add, I think I can do it,” he said.

The Midlothian teen is once again illuminating the season with Dylan’s Winter Wonderland Lighting Ceremony, during which he asks the public to stop by, enjoy the show and, in the spirit of giving, leave a donation of nonperishable food for the needy.

The holiday lights display goes live Friday and will be on at 3939 W. 147th Place from 4:30 to 9 p.m. weeknights and until 10 p.m. weekends. Generous visitors can leave food items in the bin next to Santa on the front walk.

The food will be sorted and weighed daily, and then delivered each week to food pantries at St. Christopher Catholic and St. Stephen Lutheran churches in Midlothian, as well as Together We Cope in Tinley Park.

Dylan also delivers care packages to the homeless in Chicago and to local families in need. Last year he brought food to a family whose house had burned down.

“I like doing this kind of thing. I like Christmas lights, and I love the giving season,” he said.

So he’s extended it into a year-round mission. Inspired by the micro pantry set up in his high school, Dylan decided last year to continue serving the hungry long after the holiday statues were packed away.

He worked with Midlothian officials to open a micro pantry near the village hall. Afterward, he said he was approached by the folks at the Midlothian Public Library about opening a give-take box there.

“The motto is: ‘Take what you need, leave what you can,’” he said.

He monitors the small pantries and replenishes them when needed.

“I’ve been doing research on hunger in this area," he said. A lot of kids, he said, don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“It makes me happy that I can help change that at least a little bit,” he said.

Dylan gets help from his mom, Dawn Gluszek, director of Step By Step Daycare in Midlothian, and her boss, as well as from his 13-year-old sister, Brooke.

His dad, Ron Gluszek said, “I’d like to see him reach his goal. He blew them away last time. I’m super proud.”

Dylan’s foray into altruism began his freshman year when he decoarted the outside of his house and synchronized the lights to music.

“I was looking out the window one day and realized I could be doing something good with this,” he said. “So I decided to put a box out there that people could donate food to. I ended up getting just over 1,000 pounds of food.”

Last year, with the help of some media coverage, he surpassed his goal of 1,500 pounds of food and ended up collecting 6,005 pounds. He keeps followers posted on Facebook.

He gets a lot of help from members of the community, many of whom hold independent food drives just for his cause.

Mike Cozzi, president of Caring Patriots, an organization that provides food for veterans, donated 700 pounds of food to Dylan’s drive on the first day last year. He’s already made a donation to this year’s collection.

Kevin Szabo, of Szabo Plumbing, donated a new sound system this year, too.

Dylan, who is a corporal in the Midlothian Police Cadet program, hopes to become a canine officer one day.

He says he’s able to manage school and the food drive because most of the hard work is done on the weekends.

“I plan to make trips to the churches more frequently this year, so food doesn’t accumulate,” he said. “And this year I get out of school earlier than last year, so I’ll have a little extra time.”

That’s good because he’s also selling Gluszek Christmas Food Drive t-shirts for $20, with profits going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Team Trees, which plants a tree for every dollar donated, he said.

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