CHICAGO - A massive holiday food giveaway took place Wednesday on Chicago’s South Side.
Twelve-hundred free meals were given to neighbors of Saint Sabina Church.
"It’s not gonna save their life, it’s not gonna turn their life around, but it's somebody saying they care about them," said Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church.
The giveaway was called "Operation Hope: Feeding the Community," where the church partnered with a nearby restaurant to feed the locals.
"I think it’s great," said participant Danielle Odie. "I think it’s a good thing what Father Pfleger is doing. It’s helping our community."
The food was given on a first come, first served basis, and it was happening at BJ’s Market and Bakery — close to Saint Sabina at 79th and Racine. The effort inspired many, from participants to the volunteers themselves.
"Any little thing we can do here at St. Sabina is great," said volunteer and church member Anthony Vales. "It’s cold out here, but I’m warm inside."
Father Michael Pfleger was happy to be back at the pulpit and on the street in an official capacity following an Archdiocese investigation into allegations of sex abuse two months ago. He’s been cleared of those accusations and ready to move on with the Christmas season and go back to being Father Pfleger.
"The way it's set up here, you're guilty until proven innocent. So your name is out there, and it's hard. You don't have much choice. You either quit and walk away, but this is what I know I'm called to do," Pfleger said.
Many in the community are glad the priest is back.
"Blessing to have him around here," said one recipient named Gene. "Really appreciate he’s back too."
St. Sabina Church has another giveaway planned for Saturday at noon, when they will hand out 800 $30 gift cards.