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Harper House: Committment to Helping a Local Food Pantry

Congregation built a food pantry for a local homeless shelter, decorated their dining room, and assisted in serving meals.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Sholom of Chicago
Chicago, IL

• Assist the local community through a hands-on construction project.
• Help a local charitable organization in their mission to feed the hungry.

The social action committee had been seeking to undertake a hands-on construction project to assist the local community. A committee leader discovered that a local homeless shelter needed a food pantry to securely hold the supplies necessary to provide meals for guests.

Project Implementation:
To capitalize on congregants’ individual expertise, the congregation advertised in its bulletin to solicit volunteers skilled in carpentry, construction and painting to help build the pantry. The assembled team renovated a rundown storage room near the shelter’s kitchen so that it could be used as a food pantry.

Additional volunteers were gathered, also under the aegis of the social action committee, to prepare dinner at the shelter’s drop-in soup kitchen once a month.

After ongoing involvement with the shelter, congregant volunteers noticed that the walls of the small dining room where the food was served looked bare. They asked a congregant (well-known as a public muralist) to paint the space. She recruited a group of religious school students to decorate the room with a colorful, uplifting mural.

The project grew serendipitously to embrace a broad cross-section of the temple membership—adults, children and families. The program succeeded in no small part because congregants were encouraged to use their particular skills in a project that helped others. The leadership at the shelter has expressed their gratitude to the congregation, and the organizations have developed a long-standing partnership.