Chicagoland

Renew My Church grouping gathers to help the poor

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
November 20, 2018

Renew My Church grouping gathers to help the poor

An annual Thanksgiving project in which Old St. Pat's parishioners donated and packed food Nov. 18 for Thanksgiving dinner for dozens of families in North Lawndale was one of several efforts undertaken by parishes in downtown Chicago in November as part of their efforts to observe the Nov. 18 World Day of the Poor. The five parishes — Old St. Patrick’s; Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Old St. Mary’s, 1500 S. Michigan Ave.; St. Peter’s in the Loop, 110 W. Madison St.; and Assumption, 323 W. Illinois St. — decided to collaborate after being grouped together for Renew My Church.
Families from Old St. Pat's Parish sort and box Thanksgiving baskets for low-income families in North Lawndale on Nov. 18 as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with other downtown Chicago parishes. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)
Clyde and Clara Smith sort through hundreds of food items at Old St. Pat's Parish Nov. 18. Parishioners were packing food to send to low-income families in North Lawndale for Thanksgiving as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with other downtown Chicago parishes. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)
Emma Honney and Greta Sznewajs decorate placemats that will be sent with food baskets from Old St. Pat's Parish to low-income families in North Lawndale for Thanksgiving. It was part of collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with other downtown Chicago parishes. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)
Sam LaBelle sorts through canned goods at Old St. Pat's Parish Nov. 18. Parishioners were packing food to be distribited in Thanksgiving baskets for low-income families in North Lawndale as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with other downston Chicago parishes. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)
Michael Neary assists Clara Smith, Clyde Smith and Sam LaBelle as they sort through canned goods before they are to be packed in boxes to go to St. Agatha Parish. Families from Old St. Pat's Parish made the boxes as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with other downtown Chicago parishes. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)
Families from Old St. Pat's Parish sort and box Thanksgiving baskets for low-income families in North Lawndale as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate World Day of the Poor with St Peter's, Old St..Mary's and Holy Name Cathedral parishes on Nov.18. (Karen Callaway Chicago Catholic)

About 70 people, mostly parents with school-age children, made short work of sorting and packing food for Thanksgiving dinner for dozens of families on Nov. 18.

The group gathered at Old St. Patrick’s Parish at Adams and Des Plaines streets. Parish families volunteered to bring in food off the list, ranging from boxes of stuffing mix to sweet potatoes. Then volunteers gathered for a pizza lunch and to sort and pack up the food to be sent to St. Agatha Parish, along with a cash donation to purchase turkeys.

“Everyone here who is in third grade or under, raise your hands,” parent Priya Valenti said, getting the project started. “You are going to come and empty these bags and put all the things that are the same together. Green beans here, marshmallows there.”

Older kids, she explained, would be in charge of packing the goods into boxes and writing down what each box contained. Those who were not actively packing were invited to decorate placements to be laminated and sent along with the food.

The annual Thanksgiving project was one of several efforts undertaken by parishes in downtown Chicago in November as part of their efforts to observe the Nov. 18 World Day of the Poor. The five parishes — Old St. Patrick’s; Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Old St. Mary’s, 1500 S. Michigan Ave.; St. Peter’s in the Loop, 110 W. Madison St.; and Assumption, 323 W. Illinois St. — decided to collaborate after being grouped together for Renew My Church.

Their list of activities included free flu shots for the poor on two days at Holy Name Cathedral; catered hot lunches for approximately 1,000 hungry people over five days at various parishes; making and distributing bagged lunches, including socks and hand warmers and coupons, for approximately 200 hungry people over multiple days; a workshop on poverty and economic justice over four nights and a letter writing campaign to Illinois politicians urging more be done for the homeless and the hungry.

The event and Old St. Pat’s was coordinated by St. Pat’s Opportunity for Kids to Experience Service, a ministry that offers service opportunities for parents and children about once a month, said Mary LaBelle, who participates in the group.

“We do a lot of things to help kids see the world from a different perspective that they might not see in their home or their school,” LaBelle said.

Helen Te participated with her son, Jacob Liu, and said she’s been bringing her children to do service projects for years.

“We’ve always tried to participate in community outreach at Old St. Pat’s to expose them to the real world out there,” Te said. “This is a way to help them understand that there are people who are not as privileged as they are.”

Beth Skarbeck came with her two children, Braden and Ella.

“This is a good service project for the parish and for the kids,” she said, watching Braden, 9, color a placemat while Ella, 7, sorted food.

Braden, a fourth-grader at Frances Xavier Warde School, acknowledged that he will get school service hours for helping, but it still felt good to do something for other people.

“It’s good to help the poor and people who are hungry,” he said.

Bob Acamovic, who attended with his daughters Annie, 16, and Emma, 11, said serving others is an important part of their family life.

“For us, it’s always been about giving back,” he said. “It’s a little bit of effort to make somebody else’s life a little better.”

Annie Acamovic, who also does service projects with Old St. Pat’s Foundations Youth Ministry, said service should start with children.

“It’s important to start from a young age,” she said. “And make it a lifelong habit.”

Topics:

  • thanksgiving
  • world day of the poor

Related Articles

Advertising