Louie G Food Pantry collection shed relocated to Chase Bank in Gladstone Park; ‘cereal for summer’ campaign underway
by BRIAN NADIG
The Louie G Food Pantry has a new home.
The collection shed, where non-perishable food items can be left, recently was relocated to the north parking lot for Chase Bank at 5813 N. Milwaukee Ave. (just east of Medina Avenue).
For the past year the shed had been on the grounds of the Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish school and church, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., but pantry organizers said that a new home was needed to reflect the wide-ranging charitable initiatives being undertaken by volunteers and supporters. Paperwork is being filed to make the pantry its own nonprofit.
The pantry is named after “Coach Lou” Gonzales, a longtime football coach at the former Saint Tarcissus Parish. At age 60 last year, he became one of the first Chicagoans to die from coronavirus.
“A lot of people knew Lou,” said pantry volunteer Jocelyn McGovern, who founded the pantry along with Melisa Sipolt Moroko and Lou’s wife Laura and son Tommy. “The next thing you know it’s like a brand, and it took off.”
In addition to food being donated to the pantry, volunteers collected large amounts of communion clothes that were given to the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, 3814 W. Iowa St., where ready-made meals for the homeless and 500 chocolate Easter bunnies also have been donated, McGovern said.
Also, scholarship programs were set up for Saint Patrick High School and Notre Dame College Prep due to the their students assisting with the pantry, McGovern said.
The students have picked up donations from homes and helped transport food from the shed to the Saint Cornelius Food Pantry, 5205 N. Lieb Ave., which had extended hours at the start of the pandemic due to the high demand. The Saint Cornelius distribution site is overseen by Saint Elizabeth, which consists of the former Saint Cornelius, Saint Tarcissus and Saint Thecla parishes.
Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association president Joe DiCiaula said that the pantry has become an important part of the community in a short time, not only helping needy families but providing an outlet for students to earn service learning hours. “They took this and ran with it. They deserve the credit,” he said of the organizers.
The pantry recently launched its “cereal for summer” campaign in which it hopes to collect 5,000 boxes of cereal for children who do not have access to a school breakfast during the summer. Donations of $28, which will be used to buy 10 boxes, are being accepted through Venmo and Zelle payment services, and those who are interested are asked to send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a side note, the collection pantry is expected to remain on the Chase Bank property during the planned construction of a new branch, but it could occasionally be moved due a different location on the property to accommodate the work, McGovern said.