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Chicago and Cook County church assistance programs.

Dozens of churches are located across the city of Chicago as well as all of Cook County. Most of them are focused on offering financial assistance in certain “districts”, or regions of the city, such as the south side, Northwest, Central, and other areas. They may also be set by zip code, as a church only has limited resources and focuses on a certain area.

The assistance provided is wide ranging. Based on need and income, there may be some emergency funding for paying rent, heating or utility bills, prescription medications, or free gasoline vouchers. Churches ranging from St. Benedict in downtown Chicago to Saint James in Arlington offer this support using money donated to the parish.

Money from Chicago churches for bills, food, and rent

The money to provide financial help to the working poor is often raised from the thrift store (see below) as well as fund raisers held. Many churches have bake sales, or they collect money year round from donations. These funds are then used to address housing costs, such as rent, and other emergency living expenses. It is all focused on stopping homelessness in Cook County.

Many locations, such as Chicago area churches that are part of Saint Vincent or Catholic Charities (dial (312) 655-7700 in Spanish or English) partner churches also offer help to the sick or jobless. When in an emergency, and if the household heat or lights are about to be shut off, the church may step forward to pay some of the bill or rent due. They due their best to keep people warm during the winter, both by coordinating shelters and offering heating bill help in Chicago for struggling families.

Transportation is also covered. They may also provide for medications that the sick need, or maybe help the elderly or ill get to a doctor appointment. This can be done by issuing free bus passes, rides from volunteers, or the church may even pay for a tank of gasoline.





The cook County churches, an example beings Saint Ferdinand at 5900 W. Barry Ave. Chicago IL 60634 (phone 773-622-5900), are also effective at offering so called basic needs. They often operate thrift stores with sell gently used goods. Or the locations such as the Libertyville Thrift Store (1125 S. Milwaukee Avenue) may offer free cold weather ear, such as hats, boots, gloves, and jackets as part of their Bundle Events.

Churches also provide free food and meals from pantries. St. Marcelline works to feed the hungry in their parish, and this pantry is at 822 S. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg Illinois 60139-3399, or phone 847-524-9676. The locations serve meals to families living in poverty. Other heavy users of the pantries include single or teenage moms, immigrants such as Spanish speakers or people from overseas that are moving to Chicago, and the homeless.

Chicago churches also try to provide free stuff to the poor, provided the applicant is on a path to stability. Or there may be goods given to someone recovering from a disaster (such as their house burning down), or a person re-entering the workforce. Free items are also provided to families setting up a new home in the area, and that need to furnish it. There are dozens of ways to get free stuff for a home or other needs.





Faith based locations such as Resurrection (3043 N. Francisco Ave. ,Chicago IL 60618, phone 773-478-9705) may offer clothing such as shoes. There may also be bedroom sets of furniture, couches, dishware, tools, lines, rugs, and more. One other in demand program in Cook County is a free (or low cost) car from the Wheels for the Needy Program. This will often help someone that needs transportation for a new (or better) job.

During the winter, many low income families are faced with increasing costs of living. It often comes in the form of higher heating or gas bills, or maybe their landlord increased their rent for the upcoming year. Chicago area churches including St. John Brebeuf at 8307 N. Harlem Avenue, Niles, IL 60714-2698, phone 847-966-8145try to provide additional assistance during that time-frame. This is mostly targeted at ensuring residents can have some holiday joy, such as a Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas meal or gift.

Therefore, the church will hold fundraisers. They collect new, unwrapped toys or clothes for kids. Or food boxes are also needed, and volunteers can prepare a holiday meal. All of these goods are given, for free, to the elderly, working poor, and immigrants. Anyone in need during the holidays can turn to a church in Cook County.

Additional support from a Cook County church

A church knows that just providing a few dollars for rent or some other bill is not enough in its own. That is why a local faith based group will try to offer so much more to a family living in poverty. Or they try to support individuals that speak English as a second language (such as a Latino moving to the city), women fleeing domestic violence, or homeless teenagers. Anyone can drop in for support. Whether it is spiritual counseling or just someone to talk to, parishes such as St. Stephen, Deacon And Martyr (17500 - 84th Avenue, Tinley Park, IL 60477-2367, dial 708-342-2400) try to meet this need as well.

Volunteers will meet the the disadvantaged person. They will try to understand their need in a non-judgmental manner. If the person needs a meal, or a place to get out of the cold Chicago winter weather, that can be arranged. The church staff can direct the client to places to go for long term support, such as around employment or they can review how to apply for public aid at Department of Social Service offices in Illinois.




If shelter is needed, then Our Lady of Victory at 5212 W. Agatite Avenue, Chicago Illinois, 60630-3778, (phone 773-286-2950) may arrange that. All of these programs, whether it is rental assistance, a free box of groceries, and more can be addressed. Any need that the person has the church will try to fulfill.

For a church that may be able to provide financial or non-monetary assistance, use this resource for local parishes. Funds are limited as is the geographical reach.

By Jon McNamara

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