Free food, clothing and a full buffet of other benefits will be available to low-income families at Love Elgin Day, a multidenominational church outreach on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The biannual event, which is being held for the fourth time, takes place at five churches within walking distance of each other in downtown Elgin. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Besides the five host churches, 35 others from a wide variety of denominations work together to bring this special outreach to the community.
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If you goWhat: Love Elgin Day, an outreach to under-resourced families offering free food, clothing, shoes, medical and legal advice, haircuts, manicures, massage therapy, family portraits, addiction recovery help, bicycle repair, car checkups, lunch and prayer
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Attendees can register at Vineyard Church, 220 Division St., and continue to Iglesia Carismática Puerta de Sion, Family Life Church, First Congregational Church and First United Methodist Church. All are within a few blocks of each other.
How much: Everything is free.
With music, balloons, clowns and face painting, the event takes on a festive tone, particularly on Division Street, which will be closed to traffic between Center and Spring streets. Band performances and dancers will be scheduled throughout the day at Carleton Rogers Park, next to First United Methodist Church.
"It's like a family community thing," said Brianna, a young Elgin mom who attended for the first time last April with her son. "Everyone's here. I came for legal services, and then I just started walking around and enjoying myself. I really wanted to stop for a family picture because I've never had a family photo taken."
Under-resourced families and individuals who reside in Elgin are invited to receive free food and personal hygiene items, clothing and shoes, medical and dental screenings, professional legal counsel, haircuts, manicures, massage therapy, bicycle repair and automotive services. Family portraits -- a popular service that debuted last spring -- will be offered again.
Resource information from a variety of community organizations will be provided, and the Elgin police, fire and public works departments will be on hand for kids to see their vehicles up close.
At Love Elgin Day, there is definitely such a thing as a free lunch, and it's available to everyone who attends.
Guests also have the opportunity to hear a message about the love of God and receive personal prayer.
The roughly 300 volunteers who come to give their time enjoy the day as much as those who come to receive.
"The goal is to love people in the name of Christ," said the Rev. Robert Sathuri, pastor of First United Methodist Church. "There's nothing else. The joy that you see on the people's faces, it's a sense of satisfaction in the people who are part of the family of Christ."
Event guests register in front of Vineyard Church, 220 Division St., and continue on to Iglesia Carismática Puerta de Sion, Family Life Church, First Congregational Church and First United Methodist Church. All are within a few blocks of each other, and Love Elgin Day volunteers will be ready to help guests carry food and clothing to their cars.
The outreach will be held in a larger space than previously -- one of the churches has been able to make more space available -- and more hairstylists have agreed to participate in response to high demand. The bike repair area, too, has seen a great deal of growth. At the first event in April 2012, two volunteers spent the day getting 10 bicycles back in shape; in April 2013, a team of six fixed 60 bikes.
With an average attendance of nearly 2,000 people, Love Elgin Day is held on the last Saturday of April and last Saturday of September every year. Pastor Jeorge Holmes, an Elgin native, is the lead coordinator and founder.
Weather permitting, some activities will be set up outdoors, but rain or shine, the event will take place as scheduled. All distributions will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
For details on Love Elgin Day, visit www.LoveElginDay.org.