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#FeedItForward: Innovative Partnership Brings Food to Our Families
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was forced to adapt on the fly. It became imperative for us to shelter in place and stay socially distant in order to save lives. Yet the need for the essential services we provide only grew because of the impact that the crisis was having on our children and families. And like it has for more than 133 years, the mission of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls marched forward.
Though the way that we provide some of our services may look different during this pandemic, our core mission remains the same. We continue to serve children and families who need it most while adhering to the recommendations from leading health experts. And it has been a team effort with the help from our supporters and community.
Providing nourishment for our families remains a top priority, and weekly food deliveries to their homes ensure they have the strength and support to weather these difficult times. Our longtime friends at the Lavin Family Foundation recognized the urgency of the situation and immediately stepped forward to help provide food for our families and families across Chicago.
Some of our families have an extreme immediate need for food and are unable to cook due to housing instability. That is why working with restaurants in the communities our families reside in has been so important. Carol Lavin Bernick and the entire Lavin family understand the hardships many small businesses are facing at this time and decided to focus their #FeedItForward initiative on supporting local restaurants.
One of the restaurants Mercy Home has worked with is Cuzzo’s Pasta, Pizza, Panini and More in Oak Park. When the pandemic started, they were happy to be able to keep their doors open and serve the community.
“It felt great for not only myself, but definitely all my guys that work for me,” said Will Sasso, owner of Cuzzo’s. “All of my employees are all able to still provide for their families and still be able to bring home a paycheck at the end of the week.”
The staff have gone above and beyond to brighten the lives of our families, even including a free dessert every now and then. And they’re happy that people like the Lavin family are choosing to support local businesses during this time.
“It keeps us afloat and helps us keep going,” Sasso said. “These big chains have money that backs them up, and we don’t because we’re small businesses; mom and pop. For them to make a decision like that and make a statement like that, it’s definitely a big thing.”
Another restaurant we are working with is Gianna’s Pizza on Chicago’s South Side. Not only have they helped our families during the pandemic, but others as well, donating food to individuals in their community and local hospitals. And they appreciate that people are going out of their way to support local businesses.
“[It means] everything,” said Michele, owner of Gianna’s Pizza. “Especially a small local business – we’re family-owned; my husband and I… Our regular customers were even calling us more because they wanted us to stay – so it’s very heartfelt.”
We want to send a special thank you to all the local restaurants helping us bring warm meals to our families. And we are extremely thankful to the Lavin family for making these food deliveries possible. If you are able to, please join with the Lavin Family Foundation and consider making a donation to Mercy Home so we may continue providing food and basic necessities to our families in need.