Greater Chicago Food Depository recognizes homeless shelter volu - FOX 32 News Chicago

Food Depository recognizes homeless shelter volunteer

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Sometimes everybody needs a helping hand. But sometimes those people are giving back while they are getting help.

Orlando Collins is one of those people. He's doing volunteer work at the Franciscan House homeless shelter on Chicago's West Side.

"I've been volunteering here for the past year," Collins said as he worked in the laundry room washing sheets and blankets.

He's also been living here.

"What brought me here was homelessness. I lost my apartment due to foreclosure on the building which I was renting from and it's been kind of hard to find an apartment to rent," Collins said.

Because he lost his job, too. But to Collins' credit, he has maintained a positive outlook. For that, the Greater Chicago Food Depository is recognizing Collins for his giving attitude during this tough time in his life.

"It's inspiring that we can help someone get back on the feet, an agency of ours can help someone get back on our feet, and get back out in the community, get back out into their own place, in Orlando's case, and really get their life on again," said Paul Morello with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The Franciscan House is now participating in the Food Depository's rescue food program. Part of Collins' volunteer efforts include unpacking the food that gets brought in every day.

"Food depository trucks will go to local grocery stores every morning," Morello said, "They will pick up food that is fine to eat, is nearing its sell by date, but has not reached it, basically would be discarded in the natural turnover of grocery store shelves, then bring it directly to agencies like the shelter."

On the day we visited with Collins he was unloading packages of frozen turkey. The partnership with the food depository has been a blessing for him.

"The food depository played a very important roll, it's like, after a day out on the street, nowhere to go, walking around, you get real hungry at a time and there's nothing to eat and when I come in at night, there be a nice meal waiting, a steak maybe, a half a chicken," Collins told us.

It's a big improvement from the meals provided before the Franciscan House joined the rescue food program.

"Before they came on the food rescue program, they were giving their residents soups, salad and a cold sandwich for their meals. Since they got on food rescue, residents are now able to enjoy hot meals," Morello said.

Since being at the shelter, Collins has gone to school and obtained his food handlers certification and landed a part time job. He's now saving money for an apartment, while continuing to live and volunteer at the shelter. He hopes to move out this summer.

For more information: Chicago's Food Bank

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