A LaGrange bakery has been donating meals to employees on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including workers at West Suburban Medical Center, 3 Erie St. in Oak Park.

Junior Pinal, who along with his wife Araceli Rincon manages Aracely’s Bakery in LaGrange, said that the family-owned business has so far taken donated meals to roughly a dozen Chicago area hospitals. They dropped off meals to West Sub workers on March 31.

“This hit home with us,” Pinal said of the pandemic. “My sister-in-law is a nurse practitioner. She and my wife took the first meal to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn last Saturday out of the kindness of their hearts. We didn’t realize how this would blow up.”

Since that first meal, Pinal said, the bakery has received monetary donations that have allowed them to donate roughly 500 meals and counting.

Recently, the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission gave $600 to allow Aracely’s to donate more meals to hospital workers and first responders.

“This local business, which is already taking a financial hit from the virus, has been donating meals to hospitals including Gottlieb, MacNeal, UIC Hospital, Advocate Christ, Loyola, and Lurie Children’s Hospital,” said Michael Corrigan, the commission’s board president.

“We are asking residents to also step up and buy some meals for these people who are working exhaustive hours and putting themselves at risk responding to this pandemic,” Corrigan said.

The commission has established a GoFundMe page to raise funds for purchasing even more meals from local restaurants in the west suburbs that will then be donated to area medical workers. Visit HERE to donate.

Pinal said the bakery has three other locations in Melrose Park, Franklin Park and Cicero. The business was founded in 1982 by Pinal’s father-in-law, Sixto Rincon.

Since Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order took effect on March 21, business has slowed, but that hasn’t deterred the family from pursuing the mission to feed front-line workers, Pinal said.

“We want these workers to know that we are supporting them and stand behind them,” said Pinal. “Some of the health care workers that I’ve spoken with feel like they’ve been forgotten since we are under the shelter in place order. These meals are a small token of our appreciation, but they mean a lot.”

A $10 donation allows Aracely’s to donate one meal that includes a sandwich, chips, cookies, and a soft drink. Pinal said that they also throw in tamales, muffins and bread.

To purchase a meal for a hospital worker from Aracely’s, in particular, call the bakery at (708) 352-1767 or Aracely’s Facebook page.

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