On behalf of the staff, boards of directors, volunteers and clients of the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry and Walk-In Ministry, we want to sincerely express our gratitude to Jason Geil, Wednesday Journal photographer, and Wednesday Journal for putting out the call for donations of air conditioners to maintain reasonable temperatures in our offices, client areas and especially food storage areas.

We would also like to thank Unity Temple and the many generous individuals for responding to that call and Gy Menninga for the elbow grease and ingenuity required to install the units in window spaces not ideally suited for the task.

While we continue to be thankful beyond measure to First United Church of Oak Park for generously providing space for our organizations, the down side, as with most beautiful old church buildings in Oak Park, is the lack of central air conditioning. Though we’ve been running two standing floor A/C units and multiple fans, it is nearly impossible to maintain temperatures lower than 86 degrees in our space due to the intense amounts of heat produced by the many refrigeration and freezer units in the pantry.

While this is certainly uncomfortable for the human occupants in the space, the much more critical issue is food preservation and volunteer preservation. Cooling our space will not only help preserve the refrigerated and frozen food, but will help ensure that fresh produce can be offered through the remainder of the summer hot months, and there will be volunteers willing to work through the dog days of summer.

This latest act of kindness confirms what we have known all along: The residents of Oak Park and River Forest are generous and compassionate and, for that, we are exceptionally grateful.

Kathy Russell
Executive Director, OP-RF Food Pantry

Cristy Harris
Executive Director, OP-RF Area Walk-In Ministry

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