PEORIA — Employees of Raber Packing Co. have been far from idle since their facility went up in flames last November.
While the West Peoria facility relocates to new property on Farmington Road that could open by this winter, staff members — who are still receiving pay because of the company's insurance policy — have been volunteering at organizations around the community.
Among those is the Peoria Labor Temple, where employees were working Monday morning doing rehab work on the building's third floor.
It's part of ongoing efforts to refinish space there as Children's Home prepares to rent out most of the building's first floor and part of the third floor.
"We're so glad they stepped up, because these projects really cost a lot of money; we just can't afford it," said Sharon Williams, president of the not-for-profit Peoria Labor Temple Association.
Much of the work they've been doing over the last few months on the space has been volunteer-based, she said.
"I'd be lying if I'd say I wouldn't rather be out cutting meat and selling meat in the community," Raber President Henry "Buddy" Cordt said during a news conference at the Labor Temple. "(But) it's nice that we can do this stuff."
Cordt said that Raber is working on a temporary location so "hopefully we can be out cutting meat in the next few months" ahead of a hoped-for opening of its permanent location before the holidays.
All told, Raber employees have done more than 14,000 hours of volunteer work and community service since the Nov. 8, 2018, fire. It's not all been at the Labor Temple; other beneficiaries have included Peoria's First United Methodist Church, the Midwest Food Bank, Peoria Park District, Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels and high school FFA chapters.