'The Lunch Squad' is cooking meals for those in need — and you can help

A local activist and actor joined volunteers cooking for the homeless on the North Shore Wednesday, trying to inspire others to help those in need.

The group called 'The Lunch Squad' has been cooking meals in the kitchen of Lake Street Church for people sheltering in an Evanston hotel for the last two years.

Gail Doeff and her squad volunteer for "Connections for the Homeless" as part of the nonprofit's mission to feed and help 4,000 people facing homelessness and housing insecurity.

"There is definitely a need in the North Shore. Homelessness can happen to anyone through a series of bad decisions or bad luck," said Doeff.

Joining them Wednesday was an actor you may have seen on Empire, Shameless, Chicago Med and more — but Andre Bellos's current role is to encourage people to volunteer, through his initiative called, "Do the Right Thing."


"I'm just traveling to different nonprofits and just shedding light on it, and just asking people to come out and volunteer. There's a huge shortage of volunteers," said Bellos.

At Connections for the Homeless, they need more volunteers. People showed up to help on Thanksgiving, but the work to feed people goes way beyond that.

"It's always wonderful when people want to help during the holiday and think of others, but it's also good to remember that those others are hungry 364 other days of the year," said Doeff.

People can help cook in the church kitchen, make lunches at home, or find what works for you.

"My message basically is volunteering is cool. You don't have to do anything special to volunteer. Volunteering can start in your home, and we all have something to contribute in this world. We just have to figure out what that is and go for it.," said Bellos.

For the squad, that means cooking up some food to nourish both the body and soul of people in need.