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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Logan Square Neighbors Donate Thanksgiving Turkeys, Side Dishes To School Families Hit Hard By Pandemic

"We have just witnessed so many people losing their homes or their jobs," said Israel Perez, principal of Yates Elementary. "This is a time that is hard for a lot of them."

Donations for the Yates Elementary Thanksgiving drive have poured in over the last three weeks. The picture on the right is from a separate food drive the school hosted two weeks ago.
Courtesy of Principal Israel Perez
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LOGAN SQUARE — Yates Elementary families struggling through the coronavirus pandemic have one less thing to worry about this Thanksgiving thanks to Logan Square neighbors and other donors.

Donations for the Yates Elementary Thanksgiving drive have poured in over the past three weeks.

Neighbors and local organizations have donated nearly 100 turkeys and dozens of non-perishable side dishes, including canned yams and canned green beans, to Yates families in need.

Yates Principal Israel Perez said in some families, every person has contracted the virus. In others, parents have lost their jobs and subsequently their apartments from the pandemic’s economic fallout.

In Perez’s five years at the helm of the school, he’s never encountered this level of need, he said.

“We just have witnessed so many people losing their homes or their jobs. We’re in the red right now. This is a hard time for a lot of them,” Perez said.

Nearly 98 percent of the students at Yates Elementary, 1839 N. Richmond St., are low-income, according to Chicago Public Schools data. About 74 percent are Hispanic. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Chicago’s Latino residents.

The drive is not about charity — it’s to ensure every Yates family has food on the table this Thanksgiving, he said.

“We’re just trying to alleviate one burden off your back,” he said.

Several local organizations and officials, including the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Ald. Daniel La Spata’s 1st Ward office, have donated throughout the drive. In addition to food, people have given gift cards, masks, children’s clothing and winter coats.

Some neighbors have also donated money. The total amount raised as of Thursday evening was $300, which will go toward providing more turkeys, Perez said.

With the amount donated so far and the money they’ve raised, the organizers are on their way to meeting their goal of giving out 150 turkeys.

The drive is still accepting donations through 3 p.m. Friday. Yates staffers and administrators will pack up the turkeys and sides and bundle them into Thanksgiving kits, which they’ll hand out Saturday.

So far, nearly 70 Yates families have signed up for Thanksgiving kits, far more than Perez anticipated.

“I spoke to one parent this morning and she was really thankful,” Perez said. “It’s an awesome thing to see the community come together and support our families the way they are. I’m so thankful for the community.”

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