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2018 Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Serving Events

Hello Friends, 

We are less than six weeks away from the start of our biggest serving events, 2018 Thanksgiving & Christmas Serving.  This is our opportunity to ‘Pay It Forward’, Get Connected and Give Hope to those in need.  Here is your chance to CHANGE THINGS with your KINDNESS and INSPIRE CHANGE in others who see the good your doing.  Don’t miss out on the JOY serving others provides for you, and the people we serve.  

Our Upcoming Events

  • November 21, 2018 – Pacific Garden Mission Thanksgiving Dinner.   Please note, we have already filled ALL of our volunteer slots for this event!!  We invite you to look at our other wonderful serving opportunities.
  • November 22, 2018 – Elgin Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Elgin, IL    Please note, we have already filled ALL of our volunteer slots for this event!!  We invite you to look at our other wonderful serving opportunities.
  • November 22, 2018 – H.E.L.P.S. Thanksgiving Dinner, St. Charles, IL    – We are still looking for volunteers!
  • November 22, 2018 – Ewing Annex Hotel Thanksgiving Luncheon, Chicago, IL  –  Please note, we have already filled ALL of our volunteer slots for this event!!  We invite you to look at our other wonderful serving opportunities.
  • November 22, 2018 – West Cook YMCA Thanksgiving luncheon, Oak Park, IL     Please note, we have already filled ALL of our volunteer slots for this event!!  We invite you to look at our other wonderful serving opportunities.
  • December 15, 2018 – San Miguel Christmas Luncheon, Chicago, IL  – We are still looking for volunteers
  • December 15, 2018 – Ewing Annex Hotel Luncheon, Chicago, IL  Please note, we have already filled ALL of our volunteer slots for this event!!  We invite you to look at our other wonderful serving opportunities
  • December 15, 2018 – Elgin Community Christmas Dinner, Elgin  – We are still looking for volunteers
  • December 22, 2018 – Community Christmas Meal with The Music Box Foundation, Chicago, IL    – We are still looking for volunteers

How to Volunteer:  Please respond via email,, or use the sign-up genius link below to register.  We hope you will be able to join us for one of these wonderful serving opportunities. If you can only make it for part of the event, that is fine, just let us know what times you are available so we can plan.

It’s a very rewarding experience you and your family or friends will not want to miss!

If you cannot serve but would like to make a monetary donation, checks can be mailed to FOOD FOR FRIENDS, PO BOX 2423, Palatine Illinois 60078, or visit our website, and click on the “Donate” button!

Please help us Pay It Forward – Get Connected and Give Hope!

Thank you,


Note:  Food For Friends is an official 501(c)(3) Christian organization providing hands-on opportunities to feed the poor who are hungry in the Chicagoland area.

Sept. 22, 2018 – Serving Event Recap – Ewing Annext Hotel

Note:  On Saturday, September 22, 2018, Food For Friends once again partnered with Lee ‘n Eddies Catering to provide and serve a meal to the men staying at the Annex Hotel. The following article was sent in via email by Noah Lee. The Food For Friends Board would like to thank Noah for the great article and all the photos. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who served that day. To see all the photos from this event, go to our Facebook album for this event.

On Saturday, September 22 lunch was provided to about 100 men at Ewing Annex Hotel in Chicago, IL.

We had 6 volunteers representing FFF at this event: myself, my dad John, Helen Cossio, her daughter Gabby, Ed Currie, and Krista Kaplan.

Food For Friends volunteers staff the serving line at the Ewing Annex Hotel on September 22, 2018

We had a great time serving lunch to the men at the Annex Hotel, which consisted of fried chicken, mac and cheese, roasted potatoes, almond green beans, pasta, and hawaiian meatballs.  The fried chicken was a big hit and the men all had a nice time. 

The Ewing Annex Hotel provides affordable temporary housing for men in need.  Many of the men stay at local shelters most of the time and stay at the Annex when they can afford to do so.  The Annex, unlike most  shelters, gives the men their own room so they can enjoy some privacy. 

As usual, the men were very grateful for their meal and gracious to the FFF volunteers.  We have gotten to know some of the patrons at the Annex from our previous serving events and enjoyed seeing them and sharing some time with them.

Special Thanks to Food For Friends and cater, Lee’n Eddies!  

We look forward to serving again at the Annex Hotel in December.


Noah Lee

Food For Friends volunteer

Food For Friends Partners with City of Elgin in Kids Back to School BBQ Bash

On August 18, 2018 Food For Friends participated in a very large serving event in Elgin called Back to School BBQ Bash.

On August 18, 2018 from 12 to 5 pm, Food For Friends participate in a very large serving event in Elgin called Back to School BBQ Bash.  This event, which organizers hope to turn into an annual event, was sponsored by several partners. 

Food For Friends provided 12 volunteers and teamed up with Jeff Turner and Dream Foods, City of Elgin to serve Hot Dogs, chips and cookies to over 2000 people. More on our serving experience below.

It was a very warm humid typical August day and people from all backgrounds came to the Elgin Wing Park Pavilion for the event. There was face painting and balloon man entertainment for the kids. 

One draw for all the school children as a back pack give away.  More than 600 backpacks filled with school supplies were handed out courtesy of donations from House of Restoration, Aaron Cobb, state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, and Wells Fargo Bank.  Students came in droves for hours to get these backpacks

The excitement was all day long, with several groups providing entertainment at the band shell in front of the food truck.  The singers and dancers were of all ages including children from church groups singing, and different cultural groups singing and/or dancing for the crowds.  The list of groups performing included the Omega Funk Brotherz, Blue Tulip Wranglers, Covington Groove, Ballet Folklorico, Integrity Dance Studio, Elgin Children’s Theatre, Second Baptist Church’s Precious Praise and New Life Covenant Church Praise and Worship

For our part, Food For Friends donated 2500 Vienna hot dogs and Gonnella Baking donated the buns for the hot dogs.  The food line was amazin and continuous from over 3.5 hours at one point from 12 noon until 330 pm before slowing down.  There were a few other food vendors, including a group frying a small amount of fish filets..   All participants seemed to fully enjoy and stayed to eat and enjoy the last of the warm summer days before heading back to school next week.   Left overs went to Local food pantries and service organizations.   

To see all the pictures from this event, head over to Facebook and have a look at them at

July 13, 2018 Serving Event Recap – San Miguel Graduation Luncheon

Note:  San Miguel School serves students who are academically at-risk and whose families are economically disadvantaged. San Miguel relies almost entirely on community support and donations to operate   On July 13, 2018 Food For Friends Volunteers served a dinner for graduating students.  Over 250 guests atteded the dinner at the San Miguel school in Chicago. The following is a recap of the event sent in by Christina Chacon, Food For Friends Board Member.  To see all the pictures from our event, see our photo album  2018-14July – San Miguel School Graduation Dinner   (on Facebook).

A very hot and humid Friday afternoon, 10+ volunteers arrived at San Miguel eager to serve a meal to the 8thgrade graduates and their families. The parents of the graduates beautifully set up the gym.  Music played, a couple of fans were blowing and the lights were off to keep the room cool until the guest arrived.

On July 13, 2018 Food For Friends Volunteers served a Graduation dinner to over 250 guests at the San Miguel school in Chicago

Sam from Lee ‘n Eddies delivered the hot meal, unloaded, set up the serving areas and made certain everything was ready for the volunteers to serve the meal.  He was very professional and attentive to the serving areas.  The volunteers were stationed and given instructions.

As the guest started to walk into the room, the volunteers were eager to begin the serve.  We patiently waited for the room to fill and the blessing of the meal to begin the serve.

Approximately 250 guests were served a hot delicious meal catered by Lee ‘n Eddies. The meal consisted of baked lemon chicken, pasta, vegetables, salad, jello, and cake.  The families were very appreciative of the meal, throughout the event, many of the volunteers were thanked by the guests.

After everyone was full and happy, the graduates were asked to dance with a parent.  The volunteers took this time to enjoy the ambiance.   The event was a success.

A special Thank you to the wonderful volunteers that gave up their Friday evening to give back to this special community.

June 30, 2018 Serving Event Recap – Life Bridge Community Church

Note:  On June 30 2018, Food For Friends sponsored a Mobile Food Pantry serving event with the Life Bridge Community Church in Wauconda, IL. The following is a recap of the event sent in by Ken Rasbid, Food For Friends Board Member.  To see all the pictures from our event, see our photo album  2018-30June – Life Bridge Community Church   (on Facebook).

On June 30 2018, Food For Friends sponsored a Mobile Food Pantry serving event with the Life Bridge Community Church in Wauconda, IL

On Saturday, June 30th, Food For Friends partnered with Life Bridge Community Church and the Stahl Family Foundation to sponsor and mentor their first-ever mobile food pantry.

By the end of the event, approximately 140 families were provided with over a week’s worth of groceries.  In addition, they were all invited into the church for a light snack and beverages.

Close to 50 volunteers served with energy and a loving heart through out the morning despite extreme temperature & humidity as the heat index surpassed 105 degrees.  Through it all, the volunteers spread love, cheer and many smiles.

There was a tangible feeling of care and authenticity through out the whole event.  It became immediately clear that Life Bridge is represented by a group people who have a love for Jesus and want to connect with their neighbors and help in a meaningful way.  I was very moved to see volunteers authentically engaged in conversation to understand someone’s story, then continue to pray over them to offer hope and encouragement.  They truly reflected the Food For Friends vision of feeding people’s souls at the same time as feeding their stomachs.
It was such a positive and successful experience for the community that the leaders at Life Bridge have signed-on with additional Mobile Food Pantries, targeting their next date some time in August.  This is especially welcome news as Wauconda has very dense areas of poverty and has been labeled as a food-desert by the Northern Illinois Food Bank.  Food For Friends is grateful for this quickly advancing partnership and we look forward to sponsoring these efforts going forward.  Stay tuned for more information on future events… we look forward to having you join us next time!
Ken Rasbid
Food For Friends Board Member

June 23, 2018 Serving Event Recap – Ewing Annex Hotel

Note:  On June 23 2018, Food For Friends sponsored a serving event at The Ewing Annex Hotel in Chicago. We sponsor a number of serving events each year at the Annex Hotel .   For the past few years, Lee ‘n Eddies catering has partnered with FFF by covering half of the cost of these meals.  We are grateful to Lee ‘n Eddies for this partnership.

Below please find a fantastic recap from Dane Hiteman, who coordinated this serving event for Food For Friends.  The board of directors of Food For Friends wish to thank Dane and the volunteer serving team for making the time to serve those in need,… Chicago men who have fallen on hard times, those forgotten or cast out.   For more pictures from the event, see our Facebook album

On June 23, 2018 Food For Friends service meals to Chicago area men in need at the Ewing Annex Hotel

On Saturday, June 23rd, the Food For Friends crew arrived at the Annex Hotel, an inn that provides reasonably priced shelter for working men. The hotel has the ability to host between 150 and 200 guests an evening. The corridor-style building consists of rows of individual rooms, approximately 8 feet by 5 feet. Each room has a small cot and lockable door. In an article by The Columbia Enquirer, the owner Randy Cohen was quoted as saying, “A lot of the people up there are poor and they really appreciate the services we can provide them,” Cohen said. “And other people up there are lonely. Some people have been there for years. It’s a community and for some people, it’s a better life than living alone.”

Manager Mike comes through the serving line

Up a steep flight of stairs, past a steel security door and a fenced hotel front desk, is a small TV room with about 25 industrial lunchroom chairs lined up for ease of viewing. The tall ceilinged room was painted a basic beige and had various decorations scattered about the room. The Food For Friends volunteers, with the assistance of Manager Mike (see picture of him wearing the Sox shirt and all black hat), prepped the serving area by locating and setting up three food serving tables. Next, we received the inbound catering at street level and shuffled it up the staris with help from a few of the guests. Because of the condensed serving size we had to stage the food in replenishment waves.

Our crew, with very little direction, set up shop in a matter of 25 minutes. The men began forming a line at the back of the room against the windows. We had large foil trays of fried chicken, mac and cheese, bratwurst and sausage, slices of fresh watermelon, and hotdogs. For dessert, strawberry jello and fancy fudge brownies. The room was full of the smell of tasty food and the friends that were eager to eat.

Manager Mike fetched a guest that is known for delivering prayers before meals. Minutes later, with the TV (that Food For Friends donated!) silenced and all heads in the room bowed, words of thanks and blessings were delivered amongst all in attendance. The same gentleman was also not bashful in the hugging department. It set almost a quiet and peaceful tone for the rest of the food service. The Food For Friends for friends crew asked the guests to wait for seconds, but enjoy their firsts.  With that said, “let’s eat”!

Men filtered through the line of all ages. Some looked like they may have just gotten off of work, while others were in worse physical and mental conditions unable to support themselves or their families. All were happy to be in line and not have the worry of where the next meal was coming from or how much it might cost them. As the food service progressed the line stayed consistently wrapped around the room. Men who had already received their food were sitting and chatting away with each other. It was obvious that some hadn’t seen each other for days or weeks.

This hotel is very much a community and a safe place for those in need.

One man, carrying a Tupperware dish (actually quite a few had these for keeping their seconds for later), said that his wife and daughter were over at an all-women’s hotel blocks away. He was proud of them because they were just accepted into a program to get them back on their feet and supporting themselves in a small apartment in the near future. Another man was telling everyone that his daughter just turned 1 last week. This hotel was very much a community and a safe place for those in need.

The food service lasted about 90 minutes and was just enough to serve everyone and a third of them again. Stragglers were given renewed hope as a local Masons order had just arrived and were talking about taking over the same space to serve dinner. As the Food For Friends Crew packed up to depart, Manager Mike thanked us for our time and generosity. We thanked him and everyone else in the room for allowing us into their lives and home to serve them. With that, we walked down the long flight of stairs back out to the sunlit street. But, just before exiting out of the building, above the door hung a sign, “Life doesn’t come with a remote. You have to get up and change it yourself”.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be the tools used to administer these meals provided by Food For Friends  and Lee ‘n Eddies.

Dane Hiteman, Food For Friends volunteer

May 12, 2018 Event Recap: Mobile Food Pantry at The Chapel Church

Note:  On May 12, 2018, Food For Friends sponsored a Mobile Food Pantry event at The Chapel Church, Lake Zurich. We sponsor these Food Pantry events a number of times throughout the year. Below please find a thank you note that Food For Friends Board Member Ken Rasbid sent out to the volunteers after the event.

Food For Friends served 224 ‘Friends’ at the May 12, 2018 Mobile Food Pantry at The Chapel Church of Lake Zurich

“I want to thank each of you that contributed to our May event as 224 families collected groceries and received hope through the love you provided.  Of note, this Mobile Food Pantry had a record number of 94 pre-registrations that were redistributed to our friends in both Wauconda, as well as next door at Zurich Meadows.  I’m so proud of this team for mobilizing and bringing the food directly to the people most in need!

I also want to share how we see God moving through this ministry.  As a result of the time invested in Wauconda and the expansion of relationships with leaders in their community, I am thrilled to share that Life Bridge Community Church will be hosting their first MFP on Saturday, June 30.  There new leadership group has an amazing heart for their neighbors in need and have been hard at work planning and pre-registering guests for what we hope is simply their first of many events to come.   Thank you both Food For Friends, and the Stahl Family Foundation – who have stepped in to sponsor and financially support this endeavor!

I encourage you today and remind you that we are each “more than food”.   Let’s continue our work and see how lives are changed!


Ken Rasbid, Board Member – Food For Friends”

Event Recap: HELPS Ministry Easter Dinner

On Saturday, March 31, 2018 HELPS Ministry ( had their annual Easter celebration in St Charles.  Food For Friends provided the meal and volunteers.  The caterer from Lee’n Eddies (, Dan Veles (Thanks Dan!), delivered, arranged and helped serve the meal for the event.

On Saturday, March 31, 2018 HELPS Ministry had their annual Easter celebration in St Charles. Food For Friends provided the meal and volunteers

The delicious family style meal, served to approximately 90 guests, consisted of lemon chicken, glazed ham, pasta, meatballs, mashed potatoes and veggies. There was a great mix of people of all ages. At one time, you could see a child of about 8 playfully break dancing on the gym floor as a young woman wearing a sparkly outfit danced to “Happy.”

People started arriving around 1:30 p.m. and some were still there talking at 6:30 p.m. The volunteers did a great job with setting up, decorating, dessert display, and interacting with the guests.

As the evening drew to a close, several homeless individuals, with their hands on their bellies, smiled and said they couldn’t eat anymore – they were stuffed! They were amazed at how good the food was. Great food equaled great conversation.

Overall, the event was beautiful and all the volunteers were great. This day and these smiles of those people that have less than us is a the reminder of why we do what we do and serve joyfully.

To see all the photos from this event, head on over to the Facebook album

HELPS Easter Dinner Serving Opportunity – Volunteers needed

Food For Friends will be hosting an Easter meal on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at HELPS Ministry 6N571 Tuscola Avenue in St. Charles, IL. We will be serving a meal to 75-100 women, men and children. The meal will be served at 2pm.

We will have two shifts however if you would like to participate for the entire day it would be very much appreciated.   Shift 1 – (12:30-4pm) & Shift 2 (1:30-5:30)

Volunteers will assist to set up of tables, chairs, food serving areas, and clear the tables.  If we have enough volunteers, we would like to have a host at each table.  The idea is to create a family style dinner. In addition, we encourage volunteers to please sit and enjoy the meal with the guests, get to know them.

How to Volunteer:  Please respond via email, food_for_friends@hotmail.comor use the sign-up genius link to register.

Food For Friends is an official 501(c)(3) Christian ministry providing hands-on opportunities to feed the less fortunate in the Chicagoland area.

Serving Event Recap: Elgin’s First United Methodist Church on St. Patrick’s Day

Note:  On Saturday, March 17, 2018 Food For Friends partnered with “Together with Elgin Community Dinners” and Jeff Turner of Dream Foods to provide a St. Patrick’s community meal served at First United Methodist Church 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. 45 Food For Friends volunteers served.  And….Thanks to the generousity of our donors, we were able to provide 400 pounds of Corned Beef for this event.

The following article was sent in via email by Theresa Kyriazes.  The Food For Friends Board would like to thank Theresa for both volunteering and for sending us this amazing recap of her serving experience. 


March 17, 2018

Hello, thank you for the opportunity to serve those less fortunate with FFF, at Elgin’s First United Methodist Church on St. Patrick’s Day. It was a humbling and loving opportunity for me.

I had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people and hearing their stories. Like, the mom and dad and their 14-year-old son Larkin. Larkin’s parents beamed with pride, certain that one day Larkin was going to be “a computer tech guy!” Their love for their son spoke volumes!

Just a few of the Food For Friend volunteers that showed up to help serve the Elgin Community

Then there was a man named Doug. He lives on the streets, which was obvious by his rough sun baked skin, his blood shot eyes and his layered clothing…but his smile was powerful. Doug was shuttled around by his dad for many years…a few years ago, they returned to Elgin from California…Doug’s father passed “a couple of years ago” and Doug explained to me how grateful he was to this church on cold nights. He described how they section off the basement for the woman and children, and where he and the other men sleep. “It’s not every night, just the real cold ones.” “They wake us up at 6am and we go across the street for breakfast at the vineyard.”

Then there was Manny. A nice looking 28-year-old young man. He had a broken foot…. which only drew more attention to him, but God was tugging on my heart to talk to him. I knew his story before he even told it to me. His mom moved into the city, his dad lives in Elgin…but he doesn’t know him well. Currently he is living at his friend’s parents’ house. He was quiet and polite, only answering questions when I asked them. His education level hadn’t reached a GED yet. My heart ached for him, young and the potential to be stuck in a system.

Several times as I walked around meeting people, I just wanted to cry. Tears of gratitude because this is not my reality, by God’s grace. Tears because, so many people are dependent on the grace of others, and not realizing that it’s really the Grace of God. Tears that families with small baby’s and single moms like the very young mom of 4-month-old Rosalee; so full of hope for a good future, Her mom trying her best to do what she can to help her daughter. The struggle is real. Yet, through all this brokenness there was laughter and joy. Smiles and hugs. Conversations of real life and shared love, God’s love. All because of a simple meal. A meal donated with more than food, but with love. EVERYONE was very grateful for the meal. The consistent reply when I asked, “How’s the meal?” was… “Great! The food is good, but this Irish soda bread is delicious!” Some have never had Irish soda bread before….and asked if I knew how to make it? Which I confessed…I don’t.

Back to Manny, the 28-year-old. He stayed for a long time. He had several servings of food and coffee. I passed by him and saw Peter, (a volunteer, whose life mission is reaching the homeless and sharing the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ one meal at a time) I tried to listen in/lip read what they were saying…I couldn’t understand. That’s when I realized that Peter was speaking Spanish to Manny! Manny was engaged and attentive to what Peter was saying. This conversation went on for almost a half an hour. I sat with Peter’s wife and 2 kids at the desert table they were serving at, I explained to her how my heart broke for this boy. Luci, confidently assured me that God works through her husband. Luci shared with me that her and her husbands mission is….to “Go where God calls them and bring a meal and the Gospel to those hurting…” when suddenly, Luci’s husband Peter was standing there before us. Beaming with Joy and asking his wife for one of their cards…explaining that the Lord has another member in His fold, heaven boom!! Peter and Manny exchanged phone numbers, Peter asked Manny to join him and his family one day in serving others, like he was served……. Manny agreed. Boom! What else is more important?? Nothing!

Thank you to FFF for the part you played in God’s Kingdom work. Everyday, I am more and more convinced that it is NOT about me, but ONLY about Him and the plans He has for each of us to carry out for His purpose here on Earth.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve and meet so many wonderful people! My life has not been the same since I met this organization.

In Him,

Theresa Kyriazes
Food For Friends Volunteer


Note:  For more photos from this event, see our photo album “2018-17March – Elgin Community Dinner” on our Facebook page.