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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Two Churches Hosting Free Thanksgiving Dinners In Irving Park And Portage Park

“It’s just part of our need to make sure that everyone’s fed not just with food, but also with a sense of community and family."

Volunteers carve a turkey at St. John's Episcopal Church at its 2017 Thanksgiving dinner.
Kara Wagner Sherer
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IRVING PARK — Two congregations are hosting their annual Thanksgiving dinners for the Irving Park community on Thursday.

One of those dinners is being held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 4939 W. Montrose Ave., from 1-4 p.m. Thursday. A GoFundMe campaign created by Andrew Foertsch-Jansthe, one of the dinner’s organizers, is ongoing to help cover the event’s cost.

The Joined Hands Food Pantry based at has been a resource to Northwest Side families for a decade, Foertsch-Jansthe said.

“Many people who would otherwise have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving come and get a great meal with great camaraderie to boot,” he wrote on the campaign’s page. 

As of Wednesday, the GoFundMe has raised $375 of its $1,800 goal. Some private donations will also help fund the meal, he said. 

For more information on St. John’s Lutheran’s dinner, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

St. John’s Episcopal Church will also host a Thanksgiving meal at 1 p.m. Thursday at the church, 3857 N. Kostner Ave.

The church has hosted the free Thanksgiving dinners since the mid-1980s, said church rector Kara Wagner Sherer. 

“It’s gone on every year since with different ‘Turkey Czars,’ volunteers who are in charge of organizing the dinner,” Wagner Sherer said. “But it’s always been a home cooked meal, served family-style.”

Credit: Image courtesy Kara Wagner Sherer
Diners at the 2017 Thanksgiving dinner at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3857 N. Kostner Ave.

The annual dinner began as a way for the church to provide a holiday meal to elderly residents who had nowhere to go on Thanksgiving. Over the years, it has expanded to include people who live at the nearby Irving Park YMCA, families who don’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving and people living in the neighborhood who are homeless. 

“It’s part of our Christian mission to welcome strangers. And last year, the refugee family from Iraq … wanted to experience a Thanksgiving dinner,” Sherer said. “It’s just part of our need to make sure that everyone’s fed not just with food, but also with a sense of community and family.”

This year’s dinner is being organized by Andria Anderson will include a jazz concert before the food is served, Sherer said. They are expecting as many as 120 people, she said. 

To make a reservation to the dinner, call 773-725-9026 and leave a name and the number of people attending. Sherer said walk-ins are also welcome.

For more information on St. John’s Episcopal dinner visit the event’s Facebook page here.

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