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Caritas, others, assist Belleville children’s center with walk-in cooler

Metro East-based Caritas Family Solutions has received several grants to obtain and install a walk-in cooler/freezer at the agency’s St. John Bosco Children’s Center in Belleville.

Ameren Illinois provided a $10,000 grant through its Ameren Cares program and the William H. and Mary E. Baker Charitable Trust provided a $2,500 that will accomplish site prep and installation of the unit.

In addition, Kolpak, a cold foods solutions company, donated the walk-in cooler/freezer unit. The addition of the unit enables the agency to reduce food costs for its three residential programs.

The commercial grade walk-in cooler/freezer will benefit three residential programs of Caritas Family Solutions: St. John Bosco Children’s Center, Fontebella Maternity Home, and five Community Integrated Living Arrangement homes.

The benefits include cost savings through purchasing food in bulk, better storage of fresh produce, more efficient use of employee time, and an overall increase in the nutritional value of meals.

Caritas Family Solutions C.E.O. Gary Huelsman said: “We are so excited to partner with various stakeholders in the community to improve the lives of so many individuals, including those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, homeless pregnant women, and youth in care who have experienced severe trauma.”

Since 2015, Ameren Illinois employees, organized by Chuck Mueller, senior director of Portfolio & Facilities Manager, have volunteered their time to assist Caritas Family Solutions with projects at St. John Bosco Children’s Center, Fontebella Maternity Home and multiple CILA homes. Mueller said,

The Facilities Department at Caritas Family Solutions took the initiative to locate a walk-in cooler/freezer that would meet program needs. When Kolpak Director of Service, Jay Maiden, was contacted to inquire about a unit, and learned of the impact it would have, the company donated the cooler/freezer unit.

Maiden said, “We are simply happy that one of our units will have such a wonderful impact on the community.”

Founded in 1947, Caritas Family Solutions is a nonprofit, human services agency whose mission is to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of individuals and families in order to create healthy relationships, loving homes and strong communities. Services include adoption, pregnancy care, foster care, counseling, residential treatment for children healing from abuse and/or neglect, multisystemic therapy for at-risk youth, independent living for adults with developmental disabilities, Intact Family, and assisted living and employment assistance for low-income seniors.

Caritas serves more than 4,500 individuals annually across Southern Illinois from offices located in Belleville, Carterville, Mount Vernon, Olney, East Alton, and Effingham. For additional information, visit

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