Volunteers hand out free food in Chicago area for Thanksgiving

The spirit of Thanksgiving was on full display Monday throughout the Chicago area.

Volunteers were handing out thousands of pounds of free food and turkeys, with the big dinner just three days away.

But there has never been a greater need because of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

It looked like rush hour in the parking lot of a Broadview mall this morning, as volunteers handed out 1,000 boxes filled with Thanksgiving necessities, along with PPE to protect against COVID.

Organizers say they have never seen this much demand.

“This is even worse than ever before, with this pandemic and people are getting laid off or afraid to come out and go to the store. Don’t have the money to pay for the food,” said Bishop Claude Porter of Black Men United.

At the same time in Englewood, another group of volunteers was giving out 300 frozen turkeys. But just as popular were the free COVID tests being provided by St. Bernard Hospital’s mobile van, giving people a chance to check their status before hosting the big meal.

The spirit of giving is alive on the North Side as well, courtesy of a Chicago Bear. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks visited the Boys and Girls Club on Chicago’s North Side. He bought hot meals for 75 children and their families as a way to pay it forward.

“I think he really just wants to give back during the holiday time, especially during Thanksgiving. Making sure kids have food in their bellies. And dealing with a lot of food insecurities this year, this was something really close to his heart,” said Marco De La Rosa of the Boys and Girls Club.