ROGERS PARK — Nonprofit A Just Harvest has received a $50,000 donation from the Chicago Wolves hockey team, allowing the food insecurity and social justice organization to expand its services just as community need is on the rise.
A Just Harvest, headquartered at 7649 N. Paulina St., is one of five Chicago-area nonprofits to get $50,000 each from the Wolves. The donations were announced Dec. 30.
It is one of the largest single-source, one-time gifts in A Just Harvest’s history, Executive Director Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks said. The funds will go toward expanding the group’s food pantry services, coronavirus relief efforts and community health initiatives.
“When they said $50,000, I was dumbfounded,” Pagán-Banks said with a laugh. “It really makes a difference, getting that size of a gift at once.”
A Just Harvest works to combat food insecurity and poverty in Rogers Park and beyond. It also organizes community efforts to combat racial inequality and boost social justice in the city.
The group has sought to step up its efforts during the pandemic. Demand for food assistance has ballooned throughout the city.
On top of its daily free meal program, A Just Harvest began delivering meals and food to Far North Siders who are home-bound during the pandemic.
This fall, the group ran a pay-as-you-can farm stand from its Rogers Park community garden. A Just Harvest also gave out turkeys before Thanksgiving and handed out face masks at a pop-up coronavirus testing site. The group is working with Ald. Maria Hadden’s (49th) office on issues to address spiking gun violence in Rogers Park.
In its outreach efforts, A Just Harvest has learned of greater community need, Pagán-Banks said.
The group hopes to use the Wolves’ donation to expand home delivery beyond groceries. The donation will allow for an expansion of its other food programs, she said.
The group is also considering opening a drop-in community wellness center in Rogers Park that will help residents access mental health and other services to address trauma and issues relating to gun violence, Pagán-Banks said. The new funds will help boost that project.
“COVID hasn’t stopped the other problems the community is facing,” she said. “We were already talking about expanding our services, doing more community wellness. [The donation] confirms that we should be expanding our work.”
The Chicago Wolves, based in suburban Glenview, also gave $50,000 each to Common Pantry in Lakeview, PAWS Chicago, Northern Illinois Food Bank and South Suburban Humane Society.
“This hasn’t been an easy year for anyone, but these organizations are doing everything they can to help so many in need,” Chicago Wolves owner and chairman Don Levin said in a statement. “By providing these donations on behalf of our fans, we intend to finish 2020 on a positive note and build hope for a much better year ahead.”
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