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Article updated: 11/23/2012 9:47 AM

Lazarus House feeds 400 in St. Charles

By Justin Kmitch

Pecan and pumpkin pies in hand, St. Charles resident Dan Burra pulled up to and dropped the pies off Thursday afternoon at the Tri-City Salvation Army headquarters at the Joe K. Anderson Community Center and was on his way.

"My wife and I realized our family gathering was going to be smaller than usual so we wanted (the pies) to be enjoyed by others," Burra said. "We know they'll be enjoyed here."

Such is the spirit at the annual Lazarus House Thanksgiving feast hosted annually at the community center, 1710 S. 7th Ave.

Not only have dozens of volunteers been signing up since early October to prepare and serve as many as 400 meals but Lazarus House Volunteer Coordinator Donna Bauer said just as many have been donating everything from ice, whipped cream and gravy to the 42 turkeys roasted and prepared by members of the St. Charles Moose Lodge 1368.

"The very first year, 15 years ago, we hosted dinner at the shelter, thinking we'd be serving our shelter guests but we quickly realized there were probably other neighbors who either needed a nice meal or had nowhere to go," Bauer said. "Now, the blessing of today is that everyone comes together as a community, whether you're the mayor or homeless, to celebrate Thanksgiving together."

Volunteer James Zukowski has volunteered at the dinner for the past four years and said that sense of extended family is what keeps him coming back.

"This is a chance to enjoy living life the way life is supposed to be lived rather than the strife that we seem to have brought on to ourselves," Zukowski said.

"So we come here to share our dreams, hopes, laughter and friendship with friends we haven't even met yet."

Lazarus House is a nonprofit organization that offers safe shelter, food, and support services to men, women and children connected to St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and western rural Kane County who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

On average, this fiscal year, Lazarus House is providing food, shelter, case management and other supportive services to 63 people daily at its facility and assisting another 33 households with monthly rental subsidies.

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