Cardinal Cupich helps hand out turkeys: ‘Giving thanks is something that really ennobles all of us’

More than 500 turkeys were handed out at St. Moses the Black Parish Wednesday on the South Side, Their food pantry is open every Wednesday.

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Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks to Zandra Harris, who has been volunteering with the church for 12 years, during a food and winter gear giveaway outside St. Moses the Black Parish Food Pantry in the Park Manor neighborhood.

Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks to volunteer Zandra Harris during a food and winter gear giveaway Wednesday outside St. Moses the Black Parish Food Pantry in the Park Manor neighborhood.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Cardinal Blase Cupich took a break from handing out turkey dinners at a South Side church Wednesday to reflect on the act of giving. 

“Giving thanks is something that really ennobles all of us because we remember that in fact there are blessings in life that are undeserved and that we should rejoice in that together and that should motivate us and prompt us to be generous to those in need,” Cupich said outside St. Moses the Black parish food pantry, 331 E. 71st St., in the Park Manor neighborhood.

More than 500 turkeys were given away, along with winter clothes, diapers and the regular food staples the pantry offers all comers every Wednesday. 

“This means everything,” said Percy Johnson, 76, a retired ironworker who lives in South Shore. 

“It’s less I have to buy. That $23 I would have spent on a turkey I can now put toward my gas bill,” he said. 

“I’m a widow, so this will feed me and my dog, Mia, she’s a schnauzer mix,” he said.

The food pantry and turkey giveaway are made possible through a partnership between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

More than 80 volunteers helped organize the turkey giveaway, including a group of kids from Divine Mercy Parish in Winnetka. 

“It makes me feel good because they need food for Thanksgiving and stuff,” said Patrick Smylie, 9. 

A DJ played upbeat music that people in line for turkeys tapped their feet to trying to keep warm. It also prompted a group of volunteers to start a line dance. 

“People are coming together not only to be fed or be clothed but to connect with others,” Cupich said. 

“The fact that people haven’t forgotten them. It’s important. Sometimes it’s very easy for people to live in the shadows and not have a spotlight on them. Today we’re making sure that nobody’s excluded at the table of life by giving them food for their table,” Cupich said. 

The Rev. Matthew O’Donnell, pastor of St. Moses, said volunteers came from all over Cook and Lake counties.

“This is the best example of what it means to us to be a community,” he said. 

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