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I have this indelible memory: Three Saturdays ago, it was cold in Chicago. I decided to go out for a cup of coffee and a newspaper. It was 7 a.m., early for me on a Saturday now that the campaign is over.
We recently moved to a condo across the street from First United Church, 848 Lake St. The Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry is housed in the church's basement. There is food distribution at 9 a.m. every Saturday morning of the year. This cold December Saturday morning in Oak Park, people were lined up from the basement door of the food pantry up some stairs, down the church sidewalk to Kenilworth Street.
The line of folks huddled against the cold, their exhalations made visible by the cold air, turned the corner at the church driveway and continued down the block right next to First United Church and beyond it — till it practically reached the Oak Park Post Office a block away. People were lined up early because they were worried our food pantry would run out of food.
That stuck with me — in America, a line, a long line, in the cold of winter, for food. I work at the pantry. I volunteer there along with hundreds of other people. We know the folks who come and get food. They are "means tested." They must have a picture ID. They can only come once a month. We keep track. We check. The need is so great we must or we would run out of food.
People depend on us. They get enough food to supplement their food stamps. However, their food stamps are being cut back every month. Their unemployment benefits are running out. Don't go down that line and try to tell them, "The Great Recession is getting better." Our food pantry clients are being buffeted by the winds of hard times.
The budget cutting that seems like a political football in Washington D.C. is serious business at our food pantry. People have to make do with less. Seniors have less. Children have less.
Thousands of good people like you make it possible for the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry to help feed literally thousands of people each year. Please consider making a small donation. Small donations have a way of adding up.
I can personally attest to the fact that your money will go for food for the poor. Our pantry is efficient, lean and has very, very low overhead (thanks in part to the church being our "rental agent"). Check out www.oprffoodpantry.org/ for more information.
Here are two ways to make a Food Pantry donation (every dollar donated buys the equivalent of $10 worth of food because we are helped by the Chicago Food Depository):
First, go online — www.oprffoodpantry.org — and look for the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry donation button that will take you to the food pantry's Pay Pal Account.
Second, send a check to: Haisman, OP-RF Food Pantry, 848 Lake St., Oak Park, Illinois 60301 (check made out to OP-RF Food Pantry).
Thanks, and Happy New Year.