North Shore focuses on holiday goodwill
Margaret Limoges, of Waukegan, prepares a Thanksgiving Day dinner for the residents of Hilda's Place in Evanston | Todd Shields~Sun Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 2:44PM
Acts of Thanksgiving goodwill in the north suburbs went beyond the dining room this week — to a synagogue, homeless shelter and an American Legion Post.
On Thanksgiving Eve, Beth Shalom synagogue in Northbrook hosted the annual Clergy Interfaith Service for several faiths.
“I would say the service has been around for 25 years. I told my congregation that this was the first time it was at our synagogue and I was hoping they would attend,” said Carl Wolkin, Beth Shalom’s senior rabbi.
“It’s a great achievement to be hosting it. Within the word community is the word unity.”
More than 200 listened to the service, which is held in a different Northbrook house of worship each year.
“We have a unique situation here because as a suburb we have a mosque, synagogues and churches. We have a long history of collaboration,” said Pastor Gregory Buell, of Village Presbyterian Church.
In Evanston, Hilda’s Place at Lake Street Church served about 20 of its homeless shelter residents with hot turkey dinners.
However, kitchen volunteer and Glenview resident Ron Schell said cuts in state aid have reduced the number of residents in the last few years.
“Still, I’ll continue volunteering here because I like to be actively helping people rather than just giving money for charity,” said Schell, cutting up vegetables on a long prep table.
Schell’s daughter, Margaret Limoges, was a Skokie police officer.
“In that job, you see so many families who need help. It’s nice to help when you can,” said Limoges, of Waukegan.
“Volunteering for Hilda’s Place is more direct help. You can give money, too, for charity but you can see where it’s going here.”
Judy Haltemon has been a Hilda’s Place volunteer for 20 years. She also volunteers her time for Avenues to Independence in Park Ridge.
At times she has known people who had jobs but now stood in the food line at Hilda’s.
“It’s so humbling. It can happen to anyone,” she said.
Every Thanksgiving Day suburban churches and American Legion posts have meals, live entertainment and video games on hand for U.S. Navy recruits from Great Lakes Naval Station, Great Lakes.
American Legion Post 134 in Morton Grove played host to 42 young recruits in this year’s Adopt a Sailor program.
Former Post Cmdr. Jan Lepinski served as a U.S. Army nurse for 14 years.
“We’ve all been there, being away from home for the first time. It gets emotional for all of us here. The young ones call me mom,” Lepinski, a Skokie resident.
“They’ve cried in my arms. One did today after getting off the telephone. We give hugs. That’s why we’re here.”
AT&T donates telephones during the day so recruits can call family and friends for free.
On Thursday, after eating dinner several recruits stood in line waiting for an unoccupied phone.
“They can call all over the world if they want,” Lepinski said.