HCS feeds 200 families on Thanksgiving
Clients will enjoy turkey and all the trimmings thanks to the community's generosity
Last updated 11/26/2019 at 4:06pm | View PDF
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green been casserole, pumpkin pie. These are the dishes that will grace tables throughout Hinsdale and around the country on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanks to the efforts of HCS Family Services, families who can't afford a special holiday dinner still will be able to enjoy one.
"We opened early because we had 20 people waiting in line," HCS Executive Director Stan Cook said Saturday morning at the Memorial Building, where 150 dinners were distributed between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Another 50 were passed out Monday night at the pantry at Anne M. Jeans School in Burr Ridge. Individual donors and major sponsors, including Evergreen Bank and the Burr Ridge-Hinsdale-Oak Brook Lions Club made the event possible.
The mood was festive, with music playing and smiling volunteers - members of the HCS Family Services Junior Board - ready to help clients shop.
"It's a really good feeling to know everybody can go home with a turkey and a Thanksgiving dinner for their family," said junior board member Camryn Saltzman. "Its' a really good feeling to know everyone will have a happy Thanksgiving."
Saltzman, a junior at Hinsdale Central, was first exposed to HCS while enrolled in a summer volunteer camp at The Community House.
"I just really enjoyed it and in high school I joined the board," she said. "I really enjoy coming here and spending time with the people here."
Adam Mejorado, assistant food pantry manager, shares that sentiment.
"I thoroughly enjoy working here because I used to be a child of hunger as well," Mejorado said. "I wouldn't trade this job for anything."
People often believe food insecurity is a problem that exists somewhere else, said Mejorado, a graduate of Hinsdale South High School.
"No one really realizes that your neighbors are the ones going hungry," he said.
Mejorado also runs the emergency rent and utility assistance program for HCS and serves as an interpreter for the deaf.
"And I do the heavy lifting," he said not long before he headed off to bring out another batch of turkeys.
Clients received a frozen turkey, a bag of potatoes and a box containing ingredients for other traditional sides.
"We even have recipes for the traditional green bean casserole," said HCS board member Joel Pundmann of Hinsdale, who was volunteering at the event.
Unlike HCS clients, most people don't consider buying food for Thanksgiving dinner a luxury.
"Most of us don't look at prices even," he said.
Frank does. He's been receiving a turkey dinner from HCS for the past six or seven years. He said he was disabled after being involved in two accidents and then forced to retire.
"These people help the ends meet," he said. "This is almost like going to the grocery store."
He'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at his house and said his daughter and grandkids might stop by. Even if they don't, he's not worried about having too much turkey.
"Will I eat that whole 13-pounder? You betcha," he said.
Despite his circumstances, he said he has much for which to be thankful.
"No matter what I'm always grateful I woke up on this side of the grass," he said.