St. Rita Parish provides over 550 families with Thanksgiving supplies

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

St. Rita Parish provides over 550 families with Thanksgiving supplies

As part of their food pantry outreach ministry during the pandemic, St. Rita of Cascia Parish, 6243 S. Fairfield Ave., hosted a turkey and food giveaway on Nov. 20, 2021. The popular giveaway draws hundreds who line the blocks around the church. Many of the volunteers work for RE/MAX. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A line wraps around the church and school during the food giveaway. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jenny Caviedes distributes turkeys to those in line during the food giveaway. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Volunteers unload a truck with food during the giveaway. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Sandra Pereira passes out rice during the food giveaway. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Liliana Gonzalez passes out turkeys. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Natalia Martinez, a volunteer from RE/MAX, passes out turkeys during the food drive. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

More than 550 families received turkeys and other food for their Thanksgiving meals at St. Rita of Cascia Church, 6243 S. Fairfield Ave., Nov. 20.

The parish had more than 600 turkeys to give away, according to Augustinian Father Homero Sanchez, the pastor.

There were also fresh vegetables — cauliflower, zucchini and lettuce, among other things — as well as canned and boxed goods, reusable tote bags and hand sanitizer and wipes offered by the local county commissioner’s office.

“Look at the bags people brought,” said one woman who came with her four children. “We just have our hands.”

The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said the food from the parish would help her extended family make the big Thanksgiving meal they usually have in a year that has seen the price of frozen turkeys jump 23 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is going to feed, like, seven of us,” said Andreina Ramirez, gesturing to the cart full of food she and her mother received. “It’s a small get-together this year.”

But the family planned to share the food with a neighbor who was unable to come herself, Ramirez added.

Sanchez said some of the food was donated by area companies, including RE/MAX, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The rest was purchased with money contributed from parishioners and others.

“We are so blessed to be able to do this,” Sanchez said.

Most of the people who came to get food live in the neighborhood, he said, noting that since St. Rita Parish joined with the former St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, its people come from an area that stretches from 53rd Street to 67th Street.

However, there were no restrictions on who could receive food.

“The qualification is that you are in line,” Sanchez said. “We don’t ask for identification or anything like that. They wait for hours to get the food, and if you’re in line, it’s because you need it. Today people were lining up starting at about 10 a.m.”

The distribution was scheduled to start at 1 p.m., but organizers started letting people in about 45 minutes early, as soon as they were done setting up.

The parish used the same system when it had weekly food distributions for about 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. That ended in July, as the pandemic eased a bit and more people found work.

St. Rita was one of a number of parishes that distributed food in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Parishioners, including confirmation candidates, set up in the parking lot and distributed the food as music played, setting an upbeat tone on a sunny but chilly day.

Gissel Najera, 15, was among the volunteers, putting vegetables in people’s bags and carts.

“It’s a lot of people,” she said. “I didn’t expect this many people. But pretty much everyone has been friendly, and it’s nice to be able to help out.”

Sanchez said some of his own family came to volunteer, along with members of his former parish, St. Jude in New Lenox.

“St. Rita, patroness of impossible cases,” he said. “She always provides what we need.”


  • hunger
  • parishes

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