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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: One wish

Orlando has been living at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph Shelter since July 2012.
Orlando Collins does not have a wish list this Christmas. He doesn’t want any electronics, or movies, or books. He doesn’t need the latest fashion, or the newest toy.

He just wants a warm place to sleep, a roof over his head, and a hot meal.

Orlando is living at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph Shelter in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood. He’s been there since July 2012, when he lost his job at a car wash, and the building he was living in got foreclosed on.

“It was the first time I had been out on the street,” Orlando said. “I had nowhere to go. I knew I had to go to a shelter. I was making about $500 per week at the car wash, but without that it wasn’t possible to pay rent. When it rains, it pours I guess.”

At the Franciscan House, which is a Greater Chicago Food Depository member agency, Orlando receives hot meals twice a day. The food is prepared with ingredients received from the Food Depository’s Food Rescue program, which delivers perishable items that are near their sell-by dates that grocery stores would have discarded.

The shelter has been getting Food Rescue food for about four months. Previously, residents ate soup and a sandwich every meal.

“To know that you can come and get a warm bed, and a hot meal, it really puts a smile on your face,” Orlando said. “It makes you feel good after you’ve been outside all day.”

Since he started staying at the shelter, Orlando has begun to get back on his feet. He got his food safety certification, and now has a job as a dishwasher. He’s beginning to save some money, he got help applying for SNAP and he also volunteers occasionally in the shelter’s kitchen.

While Orlando doesn't want presents for Christmas, he does have one wish. 

“I really just want my own place to live,” he said. “That’s what makes a difference. And this year, I think I can make that happen.”

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