Serving the community can take different forms, and seven different churches in the Mundelein community knew just what they needed to do.
Pastor Kris Hewitt of the Ivanhoe Congregational Church of Mundelein brought together representatives from seven different local churches that were not all of the same denomination.
“After speaking with our Township Supervisor who runs a food pantry, she discussed the high demand in the summer for children that normally receive a free or reduced price lunch,” Kris said.
The group decided to participate in Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Summer Meals Program by hosting summer meals at a park in Mundelein. Not knowing what to expect, they quickly realized the need was there when the children starting showing up each day. In their first year (Summer 2014), the program served 2,500 meals. In its second year, the group added a second site and more than 4,000 meals were served.
“It is kind of a glimpse of heaven for people to come together,” Kris said. “We have more in common than difference. We are all there to serve hungry kids and the mission is our priority.”
Local businesses and community members have also started to take notice of what these churches are doing. Over 100 different volunteers are part of the program each summer; many who weren’t aware hunger was an issue in the community.
While meals are the focal point with volunteers, the “Library Lady,” as the children affectionately call her, shows up to the site with books in English and Spanish that are sorted by grade and reading level. These are books that are out of circulation, but provide the children a chance at honing their reading skills during the summer.
“All of us believe that it is the job of the church to serve people, and it’s our conviction of faith,” Kris said. “We want to do something as simple as feeding a child. It’s a no-brainer, really.”