Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, Charity, Give Back, Illinois, Orphans Treasue Box

Tour of Orphans Treasure Box- June Give Back Campaign Partner

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Orphans Treasure Box

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the storefront of our June Give Back partner, Orphans Treasure Box. (Located at 826 Pioneer St. Champaign IL.) Founder, Beth Wendling, graciously gave me a tour and told me their inspiring story. What first started as listing a few books on Amazon to clear out the house in 2011 has grown into an organization that supports children, orphans and families in our community and around the world. In 2014, their local outreaches were Feeding our Kids and Restoration Urban Ministries. Globally, they have given to Hogar de Esperanza in Peru, the Ladlati Carepoint in Swaziland and to an Orphanage of Hope in India. Generous support has also been given to adoption grants for older and special needs kids through Cole’s Gift Grant.

Front Door OTB

The storefront portion of Orphans Treasure Box houses thousands of books neatly organized by genres with a large section of fiction/non fiction, mystery, sci fi, cookbooks, spirituals, gardening books and so much more. There is even a whole room full of children’s books with comfy bean bag chairs and toys! These books are sold at a rate of 4 for $1 and have been donated by members of the surrounding communities. In fact as I was there a nice couple from Arcola brought by three huge boxes of books for donations. Beth let me know this is not their “money making” portion of the organization but serves as a wonderful bookshop for all ages with a huge variety of styles and interests available.

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Next we moved into the sorting room where volunteers of all ages work to sort through donated books. Beth’s husband developed a system called “red light, green light” which scans each book’s bar code and mathematically calculates whether that particular book should be sold in their online Amazon store or in the Orphans Treasure Box storefront.

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After being scanned, books for the Amazon store are sorted on these shelves so they are easily accessible for staff to find and package everyday. There are over 30,000 books in this room!! The online store is where Orphans Treasure Box truly thrives. Because of their online presence they are selling books to people all over the world including the White House, movie stars, monks and more!

amazon room

The success of Orphans Treasure Box will allow them to support these organizations in 2015. Beth believes there is still a great amount of growth that can happen with this first storefront. Her hope is to branch out into surrounding communities in the coming years! IMG_1437

We invite you to join us for lunch at Big Grove Tavern any weekday in June to support Orphans Treasure Box!

We also welcome any and all book donations! We have a box for collecting donations on our community table in the foyer of the restaurant.They accept donations of Books, Audio CDs and books on CD, DVDs & Blue-Ray Discs, Educational Games & Teaching Tools.  community tableFor more information about Orphans Treasure Box follow this link http://www.orphanstreasurebox.org/!

Till next time! -Beckie & the Big Grove Team

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Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, Chef Jessica Gorin, Illinois, Mind of Our Chef

“Mind of Our Chef” Part Deux

Today on “Mind of Our Chef”  we dive into how Jessica landed in this Bubbly City and how the concept of Big Grove Tavern came about.

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How did you end up in the CU?

My husband Jonathan and I moved to CU at the end of 2011 when he accepted an assistant professor position in the Department of Geography at UIUC.  We met in graduate school at UC Davis and he followed me as I worked around Napa and San Francisco.  When he got this opportunity, it was time for me to follow him.

How did BGT come about?

The university put me in touch with local restaurateurs.  I met with a number of people who were interested in investing in or opening a restaurant and just struck a rapport with the eventual owners of BGT.  After keeping in touch over the year before we moved to town, the investors and I settled on the idea of doing a farm to table restaurant that would utilize my West Coast sensibility in an accessible Midwestern context and focus on highlighting products from local farms.

Was Farm to Table always the way you saw yourself leaning?

Once I started cooking, seasonality was always very important to me.  Davis was similar to Champaign-Urbana- a college town in an agricultural area with a very strong farmer’s market.  I was always very aware of what produce was available and wanted to use what was at its peak.  As I continued to cook, I learned that restaurants could work directly with farmers and saw some of the benefits which that relationship produced- higher quality fresh ingredients, unique ingredients grown or raised specifically for the restaurant and a mutual sense of pride from the farmer and the chef for their partnership.  I think farm to table was always a pretty clear path for me.

What do you like most about being in Champaign?

We’ve met a lot of really great people since moving here and developed some good friendships.

What is your favorite thing to do around town in your free time?

We’re pretty chill in my house.  On my days off, we hang out with friends, watch movies and play card games.  When the weather’s nice, it’s fun to walk around the gardens at the Arboretum or head out to Meadowbrook.  And of course, it’s always good to have someone else cook for me- we spend a lot of time at Sakanaya!

jbg duck farmStay tuned after the holidays for the 3rd installment of “Mind of our Chef” with Chef Jessica to learn about her dreams for the future and predictions for the dining scene in the CU over the next few years.

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Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, Charity, Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Family Service, Give Back, Illinois, Local Food, Local Support, Prosperity Gardens, Sustainable Farming, The Land Connection

Give Back Campaign- Three Month Recap

For the past three months, Big Grove has partnered up with a different, local non-profit each month as part of a campaign called Give Back. Our Give Back campaign aims to financially support and raise awareness for various local organizations within the Champaign Urbana area. Join us for lunch any weekday and a portion of the lunch sales will be donated to the featured organization! (Click here to see our full lunch menu.)

Here is a little information about each organization we have worked with thus far:


October 2014 Partner

October 2014 Partner

The Land Connection‘s mission is to train farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques and work to protect and enhance farmland so that we, and generations to come, will have clean air and water, fertile soil, and healthy, delicious food. They work to inform the public about the sources of our food and why that matters.
Featured programs like Farm Dreams workshops and Farm Beginnings courses equip their students with the knowledge needed to start a farm business with a solid foundation for its success.
Check out the Farm Fresh Now series of vegetable profiles (with recipes), plus a local foods infograph showing what’s in season and when to spread the word about all the great produce grown by Illinois farmers!

Our donation will be going towards as scholarship for the Farm Beginnings Program

Our donation will be going towards as scholarship for the Farm Beginnings Program


November 2014 Partner

November 2014 Partner

Through neighborhood farming, Prosperity Gardens is dedicated to cultivating healthy communities by providing education, employment and collaborative opportunities.
Prosperity Gardens works with the R.E.A.D.Y. school and the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club to educate and promote healthy lifestyles. The gardens also employ students over the summer. These student employees help Prosperity Gardens to produce hundreds of pounds of produce annually to be sold from an on-site farm stand each Thursday from 3:00pm-5:30pm. This gives students an opportunity to learn small business skills like the importance of customer service and entrepreneurship.
Through urban gardening, Prosperity Gardens can grow a stronger, more prosperous and healthier community.
Check out their Cookbook for a collection of healthy and delicious recipes inspired by the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden!

The Founder of Prosperity Gardens, Nicole Bridges

The Founder of Prosperity Gardens, Nicole Bridges.


December 2014 Partner

December 2014 Partner

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank exists to alleviate hunger in eastern Illinois. Clients seeking help from the Foodbank’s agencies and programs include older adults, children, the working poor, single-parent families, and the newly unemployed. To a family in crisis, Foodbank programs provide a little hope and support during difficult times.
The Healthy Futures Initiative is the Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s coordinated approach to alleviating child hunger. The initiative strives to increase children’s access to healthy foods such as produce, dairy, grains, meat, nonperishable fruits and vegetables during times of food insecurity. This includes programs like The Backpack Program which sends backpacks full of food home with children who are at risk of weekend hunger. Also, school pantries which provide a more readily accessible source of food assistance to low-income students and their families.
Click here to read more about the impact the Eastern Illinois Foodbank has on our community.


January 2015 Partner

January 2015 Partner

We are so pleased to announce our January Give Back partner is Champaign County’s Family Service– Senior Resource Center. Their mission is to support people across the generations by providing quality human services. Their reach is far and wide and includes programs such as Meals on Wheels, which delivers hot meals to seniors and the Senior Resource Center which provides seniors and their families with information about all services available in their area. There are many forms of counseling also available including Children First, a program that educates divorcing parents on the impact of divorce on children and helps them develop resources and new ways to relate to each other and their children.
Family Service aims to enrich lives across the generations. To learn more about their programs and how to get involved click here.

Thanks for reading and we hope this has given you an idea of why we at BGT feel giving back to our community is so important.

Happy Holidays from the BGT staff!

Happy Holidays from the BGT staff!

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