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‘Kitchen Witches’ help to brighten holidays for abused women

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Photo by Dermot Connolly
Janet Evans, of Palos Heights, founder of Zelda’s Kitchen Witches, stands among many of the houseware gifts collected at a “shower” the non-profit held Sunday in Palos Heights for abused women going into transitional housing.
By Dermot Connolly
Zelda’s Kitchen Witches held a “shower” on Sunday afternoon in Palos Heights for women from throughout the southwest suburbs escaping abusive relationships, bringing gifts of kitchen appliances and supplies they will need in transitional housing.
Jane Carvey, a board member of the organization, hosted about 20 women at her home on 74th Avenue, where they piled up unwrapped gifts around the colorful Christmas tree.
“(Having this now is appropriate) since this is the season in which we are celebrating a homeless family,” said Janet Evans of Palos Heights, who founded the non-profit last year. “We’re not the Maji, but we sure are the Maji to the clients that we serve.”
“Isn’t there a joke about that? That if women instead of the Three Wise Men brought the gifts to the baby Jesus, they would be a lot more practical,” asked one woman, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Instead of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the Wise Men, or Maji brought, according to the Bible, the gifts brought on Sunday included cutlery, cooking utensils, coffee pots, toasters and just about every electric gadget found in modern kitchens.
Evans explained that her organization partners with Home2Home Project and the Crisis Center for South Suburbia, providing items that the other organizations need to supply the transitional apartments for women and their children.
She said the Kitchen Witches took their name from the dolls often given to women moving into a new home. The dolls are displayed in the kitchen as a good luck charm.
“It’s a European tradition, from Sweden and Germany, where people are given a kitchen witch that is supposed to bring good luck,” she explained.
“Since our first shower in June 2019, we’ve supplied 30 clients to date, more than two per month,” said Evans, including a woman from Worth being assisted this week.
“Everything we give them is brand-new. Some of them have never had anything of their own, and everything they get is theirs to keep,” she said.
Evans said that in addition to the five showers held so far, the group has held events such as a “Sip and Paint” gathering at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Orland Park, where participants also brought donated kitchen supplies.
She noted that the Ladies Philoptochos Society at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills has been very generous with donations, as well as the staff of Palos School District 118.
“A domestic violence victim will leave her abuser seven times on average before going to the police. They can stay at the crisis center up to 60 days, and then they move to the transitional housing apartments that are located throughout the southwest suburbs,” said Evans.
“But more than 90 percent of those helped by us and our partner organizations do not go back to their abusers because they have a strong support system,” said Evans.
“I think it is a great cause. It is a need for the community. The funding goes where it should go, and the funding goes where it should go,” said Lorrie Peccatiello of Palos Park, who attended with her mother, Lois Bretall of Palos Hills.
“This is the first time we’ve come to one of these, but I have always donated and shopped at Neat Repeats, which benefits the Crisis Center for South Suburbia. There is domestic abuse that we don’t always see. So these events are serving a need,” said Nancy Balogh, of Palos Hills.
Evans invited anyone who would like to get involved or looking for more information about Zelda’s Kitchen Witches to visit the charity’s Facebook page or email the organization at [email protected]

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