‘We want people to feel loved:’ Hope House to offer free Thanksgiving meal in Galesburg
A non-profit organization plans to make 1,000 Thanksgiving meals next week in Galesburg – for anyone who needs one.
Hope House opened this fall at 156 N. Seminary St.
It’s a branch location for programs offered by the Galesburg Downtown Depot, which is a free – no questions asked — food, clothing and hygiene pantry at 120 E. Main St.
Services are still offered at the Depot.
But with no hand-washing station or ability to serve hot meals in that city-owned space, so the Depot’s Diane Crock and Champ Coleman were looking to expand.
That’s when First Lutheran Church stepped up to offer the space on Seminary Street, and Gina Suhomske and Chris Deligiannis stepped up to handle the meals.
At Hope House, free hot meals are served every Monday night – no questions asked.
“We make really great food and we want people to feel loved,” Suhomske said.
She and Deligiannis plan, prep and cook the meals.
She’s the general manager at Craft, 41 S. Seminary St., and he’s the wine and spirits director.
The restaurant is not affiliated with Hope House.
But Suhomske and Deligiannis are using their hospitality and kitchen skills – on their days off – to serve the community in another way.
“We take care of people for a living in the restaurant setting,” Deligiannis said. “But this is what we like to do. It makes us happy, and it’s a way for us to give back.”
It’s also inspiring others – including their coworkers – to get involved.
Suhomske and Deligiannis buy some of the food, some of it comes from the Depot, and the rest comes from other community donations.
“If people donate items, we’ll create a meal out of it. We might have to buy a few things to fill it, but that’s not a problem. That’s what we’re here to do,” said Suhomske.
The meals are meant to provide extra help where help is needed – and all are welcome.
“I don’t think Galesburg is unique to the problem. We are special, but we are not unique to the problem. I think hunger is something that is universal, unfortunately,” Deligiannis said. “But we are a strong community, and I feel very passionate that we can take care of the problems here, with the people here.”
In addition to the regular Monday meal on Nov. 20, Hope House will offer a free Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Turkey and all the trimmings are on the menu.
“So many people during the holidays go without things,” Coleman said. “Being able to put a smile on someone’s face and give them a meal is a lot of work and a lot of money, but it’s worth its while.”
Hope House will be prepping and cooking all week, with a team of volunteers.
And they’re still in need of people’s time and donations to make 1,000 meals.
“They can be anything, from plastic forks to turkey gravy. There’s not an amount that’s too small to donate to create a beautiful meal,” Suhomske said.
Hope House meals are typically packaged to go, but Suhomske said there will be some seating available on Thanksgiving.
“Anyone can come eat with us or pick up a meal,” she said.
Those interested in volunteering or donating can send an email to email@example.com.
Monetary donations for the Galesburg Downtown Depot and Hope House are accepted at F&M bank.
A website is underway for Hope House, where a running list of items needed for weekly meals will be posted.
Suhomske and Deligiannis are also planning to grow food at Hope House.
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