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Cicero churches unite for ecumenical service, seek food donations

— As director of human development, Poplawski serves as a liaison between the community and the Human Development Committee of Sacred Heart.

“We try to help people who are hurting and lacking in any way,” Poplawski said. “In the food pantry we try to help to make sure individuals have enough healthy food to eat. We try to make referrals to other agencies, which can help with other basic needs.”

A decrease in the amount of government food available has presented a challenge, she said.

“The community is very generous, but we struggle to keep our food supply sufficient to meet the need,” Poplawski said.

On average, Anna’s Pantry at Sacred Heart Church services 383 people each month. Each individual is provided a five-day food package, or the equivalent of 15 meals per person.

While the 2012 collection is focused on gathering food, Poplawski said in the past there have been collections of both food and money, which was then divided among the pantries.

This year there’s a desperate need for canned fruits, she said.

“Our clients also look for items such as canned pasta, fresh or frozen meat and dairy products. Personal care items such as soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes and diapers are also critical needs since clients cannot purchase these necessary items with food stamps,” Poplawski said.

Each year, the churches serving the Cicero community come together for an ecumenical service on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and “feature an aspect of our community that we want to lift up and give thanks for ... we’ve honored youth, health workers, teachers, emergency responders,” said Rev. Everett Bassett, pastor of Cicero United Methodist Church.

“This year, when we got together, we found that the demand on our food pantries was unusually great,” Bassett said. “The three pantries are really having a crisis in supplies; and we realized this was the year we needed to talk about hunger and lift that up as part of our Thanksgiving service.”

Poplawski said she is very pleased to know there is an effort being made by the local churches and the community to answer the need.

“This is a very aggressive attack against hunger that the area churches are undertaking this year,” she said. “Many families in the area are in great need. Pantries are struggling to keep up with the need.”

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