Thanksgiving dinners to feed the poor are abundant throughout the nation. Everywhere, restaurants, churches and communities come together to give thanks by offering food and warmth to less-fortunate people.
In Chicago, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago’s Food Ministry called “Feed the Hungry” continued an almost-thirty year tradition in the community center of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of people.
But Chicago’s efforts are different— as human dignity takes precedence over food, as Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos explained.
“We don’t do a traditional food line,” the Bishop— who manned the mashed potatoes station this year explained. “Instead, we welcome our guests into the community center, seat them at the table and then our youth go through the line one by one, in an assembly line format, and deliver the plates to our guests.”
The bishop insists that along with a full stomach, people deserve humanity, compassion and dignity.
“This day isn’t only about filing stomachs, but filling hearts,” Bishop Demetrios explained while he scooped mashed potatoes onto plates.
The bishop is continuing the tradition started by Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, who passed away earlier this year and transformed the food ministry into a full-fledged project of the Metropolis.
Free food is given to the homeless and needy of Chicago twice a week, usually the first and last Thursday of the month, throughout the year and each day is sponsored by one of the philoptochos chapters of the Metropolis.
But on Thanksgiving, the event— sponsored by the neighboring parish of St. George in Lincoln Park, takes a much more significant tone.
Fr. Chrysanthos Kerkeres brought dozens of volunteers from his parish to the Cathedral to run the Thanksgiving Day event, including two generous businessmen who funded the meals.
“Although our generous donors from St. George have asked to remain anonymous, I must mention that both of them not only dug deeply into their pockets, but also brought their children to participate in today’s events, serving meal after meal to needy people,” Kerkeres said.
Aristotle Loumis, a young entrepreneur from Chicago also participated, offering his own personal take via a Facebook post.
“I’ve never been a big church goer, other than major holidays… because the only time I authentically feel I’m connecting with God is when I’m serving him and his people — so I do it any chance I get,” Loumis wrote, adding that:
“Every year my older brother and I join our beloved Fr. Chris and we’re always amazed what these local churches and compassionate donors are doing for their respective communities. Chicago is not kind for the homeless in the winter, and if you are from here, you understand the conditions that they endure.”
After the event, Loumis took leftovers to Chicago’s notorious Lower Wacker Drive where there are encampments of homeless people living under bridges.
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