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OPRF Food Pantry to get $10,000 donation

Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry employees and volunteers prepare for last year’s holiday season rush. (TribLocal file photo)

Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry employees and volunteers prepare for last year’s holiday season rush. (TribLocal file photo)

The Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry will be receiving a $10,000 donation from AT&T in response to a Chicago Tribune story about financial struggles during the holiday season, food pantry officials said Monday.

The story, which focused on the pantry no longer giving out turkeys and hams, was picked up by a number of local and national news outlets, catching the attention of AT&T, which notified the pantry of the donation Monday, said pantry executive director Kathy Russell. The money is expected to be given to the food pantry in mid-December.

“We are extremely grateful,” she said.

While the story focused on the decision to eliminate holiday centerpiece dishes, the money will not be used to bring back a dinner-in-a-box program. Instead, it will be used to buy everyday staples, Russell said.  Food pantry organizers believe they have more buying power with general food and that they could never afford to give the turkeys and hams to all their clients, Russell said. There was a general feeling that it was unfair to give to only some via a lottery system.

AT&T spokeswoman Susan Diaz DeLeon said the pantry can use the money however it sees fit.

“We just wanted to help out in one way or another,” she said.

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