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Food donations sought for those in need

pilgrim faith pantry photo 4 9 scaled
Photo by Joe Boyle
Leece Nicol (from left), coordinator for the Pilgrim Faith Church Food Pantry in Oak Lawn, is joined by volunteers Peggy McGinnis and her son, Aidan, on April 10. The volunteers were accepting food donations for people who are suddenly unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
By Joe Boyle
The residual effects of COVID-19 has resulted in many residents either being laid off from work or have lost their jobs entirely.
For individuals and families suddenly facing tough times as the disease spreads, some kindness can go a long way, along with a few meals.
Volunteers at the food pantry at Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ, 9411 S. 51st Ave., Oak Lawn, have been providing meals for those in need. Leece Nicol, coordinator for the food pantry at the church, has noticed that the need for food is greater this past month.
“We have put together about 60 bags this past week,” said Nicol, who has been a volunteer for the food pantry program at Pilgrim Faith for just over three years. “Typically, we have 60 bags of groceries a month. The people are really appreciative. But we could really use some more donations.”
Nicol was joined on April 10 by volunteer Peggy McGinnis, of Oak Lawn, and her two teenage kids, Aidan and Molly. They were met with a steady stream of residents who dropped by to donate food for the pantry.
It looked for a moment like a usual day of food donations, except that Nicol and members of the McGinnis family greeted people wearing masks and gloves. They bring the grocery carts of food items to the pantry that on April 10 was stocked with food items.
“We actually even have more in other places in the building,” Nicol noted. “But they are going fast.”
Nicol said that they stock a lot of food in the bags for people who come by.
“We put a lot of food in the bags, about $35 worth a bag,” Nicol said. “We get more bang for the buck that way.”
Individuals, businesses and community leaders can donate food at Pilgrim Faith from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday. The actual food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Saturdays. The rest of the days allow for Nicol and volunteers to stock up more food.
And Nicol pointed out again that the need is becoming greater as unemployment figures rise.
“We are seeing a lot more people who have never been here before to our pantry,” said Nicol, a Crestwood resident. “They often say they are sorry and then ask what they should do. We have talked to people who have have lost their jobs at restaurants and service jobs. A lot of them are single parents who have nowhere to turn. We want to help them and treat them with dignity.”
Nicol said that while serving as a volunteer for a few years at the church, this was a new experience for her. She just became the coordinator this year.
“Talk about being thrown into the fire,” Nicol said, managing a brief laugh. “Honestly, we have seen a new set of volunteers come in. We have had people here who have done this for many years, people who were retired or elderly. And some of them have been cancer patients. So, right now, it would not be a good idea for them to be here.”
Nicol said they will accept a variety of food items, including one-canned meals, pastas and pasta sauces, rice, various side dishes, jelly, jams and peanut butter.
“So, we’re grateful to anyone that donates,” Nicol said.
Anyone who has questions about the food pantry program or would like to donate or volunteer to distribute food can call the church at (708) 422-4200.

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