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Famous Chicago hot dog stand brings together local restaurants to help feed migrants

'These people have been living a very meager existence and now they can get some great food. Not just institutional food,' said Warshaw.

Famous Chicago hot dog stand brings together local restaurants to help feed migrants
Cover Image Source: Twitter | @TheWeinersCircle

It takes a big heart and a lot of compassion to care about people. Ari Levy and other co-owers of the famous Chicago hot dog stand The Weiner's Circle sure have that. Just after Christmas last year, when the outlet's owners saw a tweet from the Texas Governor that 1500 asylum-seeking migrants would arrive in the Windy City, they decided to help them out. The city was having sub-zero temperatures around that time, as reported by PEOPLE. The company was quick to get more information about these migrants. They wrote on Twitter, "Can anyone tell us where these poor migrants ended up in Chicago? We'd like to feed them." 



By January 3, Levy and his team were providing hot dogs and burgers to more than 60 migrants from Venezuela and Columbia at a church. It was an unusual welcome for these refugees, who were used to having cold sandwiches or no food at all. "I just felt a lot of empathy," said Levy, who reached the spot along with her staff that night. "These are people that were dropped off in frigid weather, in minus wind chill weather, without appropriate clothing." He said that no one should be left in that situation. "They thank us profusely in Spanish. They're in a tough spot," added Levy.

After a successful first event, Levy and the co-owners decided to rally other restaurants to provide a warm meal for the migrants every Tuesday night. The next Tuesday, Big Delicious Planet, the catering company, provided rice, beans and chicken to another 60 migrants, which is all the people the church can accommodate. In the third week, two avid barbeques and their families made food for the refugees. And most recently, the women of the career development group The Latinista provided job advice along with Central and South American meals they made. 



Levy wants to continue this tradition every Tuesday this year and Chicago restaurants and families would like to lend a hand. "Oh, it's fabulous, it's wonderful," said Nan Warshaw, founder of the all-volunteer Refugee Community Connection. On another night, RCC volunteers Luisette and Ed Kraal, who run the New Neighbors Store, fed 30 to 90 refugees once a week. "These people have been living a very meager existence and now they can get some great food, not just institutional food," said Warshaw.

RCC reportedly runs four free "stores" in the city where refugees can get clothing and other things. One such store is at the church site where The Wiener's Circle provides food. Wiener's also carried out a clothing drive as the refugees "were in need of winter clothing, but also they are in need of everything," said Levy. He and his staff collected lots of clothing and took it to RCC free store. The store's Facebook page has been receiving a lot of requests. In one of the requests, a young family asked for housing. Moreover, many people are offering to volunteer at the store or to volunteer to take migrants to doctor's appointments or help with apartment applications, etc.



The city officials stated that more than 5000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have arrived in Chicago from Texas and Colorado, according to NBC 5 Chicago. The refugees are mostly kept in shelters only open during the day and many go to hospital waiting rooms or police stations looking for shelter at night, said Warshaw. "The people who are being forced back and forth between these warming centers and these waiting rooms, they're not being fed," she added. "They're the ones most in need of the food." She said that a hot meal and the kindness of strangers can go a long way."


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