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No. of Recommendations: 74
Guys, I've been looking for that Chicago church I told you about - the one that feeds all the homeless and needy families on Christmas. All I knew was that it was somewhere in the 9000s on Ashland. We've been driving up and down in the early evenings, with no luck. We've been frustrated and increasingly disheartened, and I was losing my sense that the Santa Project would, as always, have a happy ending.

Finally, we decided to drive up and down the avenue on a Sunday morning, in the hopes that a crowd of Sunday churchgoers would help us find the church. The problem was, this area of the city is extremely poverty-stricken and desolate. In addition, complicating our search was the enormous number of tiny, out-of-the-way, and/or unidentified churchs in that part of town.

This morning, we got up very early, packed up some coffee, and trundled off in the car again. This time, we got lucky right away - a huge hand-made banner in front of a small storefront church ("HELP US FEED 3,000 HOMELESS MOTHERS AND CHILDREN") let us know that we had finally found the place!

I walked right in and talked to the folks there. They are simply amazing. I have to say, I have really been down since the miscarriage - just sort of trudging through life. But there was something about this place that made me feel, for the first time in a long time, really good. These people clearly have a mission, and they were working feverishly to complete it.

I told them that I have many friends across the world who, every year, get together to help some kids. They were amazed and delighted and so grateful.

They said that they need the following items most of all:
- Toys for the homeless kids
- Turkeys or hams for the moms and kids (many people donate food, but almost no one donates meat)

Toys, mittens, scarves, and other goodies for children can be mailed directly to the church at:

United Church of Christ/Paul Hall Center
9039 South Ashland
Chicago, IL 60620
Telephone: 773-881-0092, 773-298-1209

I have no idea how to donate food - I guess if some of you want to send me some grocery store gift certificates, I could purchase turkeys and then deliver them myself. It seems like it would be awfully hard to mail a turkey. (But why can't it just fly there? Ha! Ha! <groan>).

As I was leaving, a woman followed me out to the car and put her hand on my arm. I turned around and she embraced me. She said, "Please tell your friends that we bless them for what they intend to do here, and for what they will do, and for what is in their hearts."

As we were driving home, I was thinking that every year I have to learn this same lesson over again - that you start out doing good because you think it's for other people, but then somewhere along the way, you realize that it's actually for you - it's to save your own life.

bookgrrl
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No. of Recommendations: 3
I have no idea how to donate food - I guess if some of you want to send me some grocery store gift certificates, I could purchase turkeys and then deliver them myself. It seems like it would be awfully hard to mail a turkey. (But why can't it just fly there? Ha! Ha! <groan>).

Hey bookgrrl,

I guess turkeys could have flown there except they were already frozen. ;-D

This sounds like a wonderful program, and how sweet for that woman to stop you outside.

I can easily mail a donation right to the church, but I think it would have a bit more impact if all of the TMF donations came through you. Would you like to email me your address privately, or have you already set up a post office box or something to handle this?

Thanks again for all you do!

photon
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I'd like your address, too, please.

I've donated to the local food bank, the Santa Fund, a homeless shelter and Toys for Tots, but I can add a smidgen more.

Thank you for reminding us what it's like at the other end, where the receiving is done.

Nancy
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Hi Bookgrrl

Please e-mail me your address too. Unless you think it would be better to send money donations directly to the church in which case I'll be happy to do that.

Thank you so much for doing the legwork on this.

KrissyLou
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Hey bookgrrl


Look at your email --

try to get back to me today --

Secret Santa
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Hi Bookgrrl:

The toys should be unwrapped?
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hey bookgrrl,

please send me your address as well (i think you've moved since last year, right?), i'd like to make a donation through you.

c.
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Me too,

for your address, please.

Marie
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Um...ditto.

I'm a poor college student again, but I can send you something.

Toys should be unwrapped? What age group are we looking at here?

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They said that they need the following items most of all:
- Toys for the homeless kids


One thing to keep in mind is that if the toys are battery operated, the parents might not be able to afford new batteries when the ones in the toy run out.

A couple of online shopping tips for people thinking of buying toys online and having them shipped to the church:

Toys R Us has some toys that will ship for free. Also, if you're signed up with UPromise and go thru their site and use a credit card you've registered, you can get a 2% rebate.

Target has some toys (in their toys from 1 to 92 section) that have free shipping. If you go thru ebates you can also get a 4% rebate. There's a $10 off $100 coupon code available, YHAPPY01 according to www.edealfinder.com

www.funtasia.net has a page of toy sales/codes:
http://funtasia.net/toys.html
A lot of the sites listed there have rebates available if you go thru ebates or another rebate site.




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I'm gonna mail some mittens,hats etc...Do I put them from "Us"

Who am us, anyhow?


85
>really, should I just put fools, or elves, or santa project, or what<
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Bookgrrl,

What are the grocery store chains in your area?

CB
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No. of Recommendations: 11
Hi bookgrrl ~ God Bless You for organizing this project, and Thanks for letting me be part of it.

I just called the church in Chicago, and spoke to Minister Williams (a very nice lady) - and asked her to gather some information for me...specifically the names & phone numbers of several big grocery stores in her area. I am going to call her back in about an hour and get this information...then I'm going to call each store & speak with the mgr. & find out if they want to get involved...or at the very least, who will sell me whole turkeys the cheapest.

In the meantime, I'm going to call a few of my contacts in the institutional food business....and see if they want to get on board! Once I identify which grocery store to work with...I'll pass that info along...and we can all work through them....and they can deliver the turkey's to the church.

If any of y'all want to contact any corporate mucky-mucks that you know...including the ones you work for...<g>...mebbe we can raise enough money to feed ALL these people!! (3,000 mothers & kids)

I'll post some info on the store(s) later today.

Chez

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Chez (and all),

What a wonderful thing you are doing!

I've been involved over the years in many similar projects and would like to offer my $.02.

Frozen turkeys are an obvious idea, but they have practical difficulties. They are hard to transport, have to be kept cold and require a large oven to be cooked. In dealing with the folks on the receiving end, this assumes A LOT.

I learned my lesson about ten years ago when I delivered a frozen bird to a house with the gas turned off. It is far from an isolated experience. The organization I was with, Samaritan House in San Mateo, CA has counseled its family to family givers to switch to a basket approach.

Here's what I'd suggest. Either go with cooked meat (spiral sliced ham for instance although religious issues might cause problems) or (even better if good screening is being done) a gift certificate to a local store (Jewel or Dominick's) for $20 or $25 in a box with some other fixin's. It will also be easier to get donations this way as having someone come into your store is a good way to generate additional sales.

Good Luck,

Kevin
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No. of Recommendations: 5
I can make a turkey fly! Thanks to my new employer:

www.crackerbarrel.com

They send out cooked and smoked hams and turkeys on 2nd or 3rd day Air shipment. How about I send the meat to the church?

wild :)
will put away some tip money for flying fowl.

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No. of Recommendations: 16
VERY Awesome, bookgrrl!!!

I've had the wonderful experience of organizing & running a band of similar "elves" before, feeding over 500 families each year.

I don't know if you'll be contributing THROUGH the church, or actually going out to deliver the contributions to the needy families & homeless folks. If at all possible, I really suggest going out and making direct contact (in a humble, deliverer way... careful not to have the recipients feeling beholden, which is easy to have hapen to someone down who still has some pride.)

For frozen turkeys, it's kinda difficult to find bulk deals on them because the retail grocers use them as loss-leaders for advertising, so they're already dirt cheap if you know how to work it. There are usually clip-out coupons in your newspapers saying Frozen Turkeys at something like;
49c/lb with $25 of groceries,
29c/lb with $50 of groceries,
FREE 15 lb turkey with $100 of groceries,
(or something like that...)

For families, whole turkeys & hams are VERY appreciated.
$50 can generate an OVERWHELMING amount of groceries that can feed a family of 4 for several days, including a huge main feast!

Other things that are BIG winners with families;
Big Laundry Basket (to deliver the food in... the families then can re-use them... and for the $2 they cost, they get a LOT of mileage,)
Daipers,
Toys,
Movie Tickets,
Gum & Candy,
Winter hats (fleece is cheap & warm... BIG HIT!)
Winter gloves

If you have a chance to plan & deliver to homeless folk you find on the street, THIS is where you get the most warmth of heart, in my opinion!

Here's some ideas;
Get big canvas shopping bags,
Blankets (think surplus shops,)
T-shirts (get 'em by the dozens cheap at surplus stores!)
Hats,
Gloves,
Scarves
SOCKS (BIG BIG WINNER!!!)
Make a whole loaf of bread worth of peanut butter samiches!
(Trick; put PB on both slices, then the jelly doesn't make it soggy after a few hours. They keep for a LONG time, even unrefrigerated,)
Protein bars (not designer type... jsut good, ready nutrition,)
Chemical (break & squish) handwarmers (Nuther BIG WINNER!)
Individual wrapped cheese sticks,
Individual envelope powedered packets of;
Hot chocolate,
Hot Cider,
Instant coffee.
Little HOTEL SIZED SOAPS!
Toothbrushes
Combs or hair brushes


I've delivered to the homeless folks under bridges where one person would gratefully (though hesitantly) accept a bag of goodies, ONLY to scramble off & immediately split them all with 2 or 3 others in a dark corner.

It's a good idea to have a small bag of dog food with you if you're out hunting for homeless people, because you WILL find the odd homeless person with a canine friend keeping them company & warm... and this is often their only "family" in the whole world. Giving some help to their "best friend" can be a wonderful gift in itself.

Bless you, and here's to the magic you'll experience!
Cheers,
Dave
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Hi bookgrrl,

I was looking for a place for my BF and I to volunteer in Chicago this winter - do you think we could help? I will be in Chicago from Dec 26 - Jan 12. I don't know his work schedule yet, but I can find out soon.
Will it be okay to come after Christmas?
What time of day do people usually congregate to help?
Days of the week?

Thanks!
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I have no idea how to donate food - I guess if some of you want to send me some grocery store gift certificates, I could purchase turkeys and then deliver them myself. It seems like it would be awfully hard to mail a turkey. (But why can't it just fly there? Ha! Ha! <groan>).

I do some of this here in Atlanta. What I usually do is go directly to the store manager. Tell him/her what you are doing, and how much money you have specifcally designated for turkeys or hams. If you have say $100-$200, they'll usually help you out and cut you a break. If not, go to another store and tell the manager of the first store, "Thank you anyway, I think I'll take a cruise over to (your competion)." That usually seems to work wonders in getting the stuff cheap.
You will have to cart the meats over, but it shouldn't be a big deal and the church can handle it from there.
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