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Irving Park Food Pantry Robbed, Entire Stock Of Toiletries Swiped

By Patty Wetli | October 5, 2016 3:54pm
 The Irving Park Food Pantry is in need of donations of personal care items to replace stolen goods.
The Irving Park Food Pantry is in need of donations of personal care items to replace stolen goods.
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Facebook/Irving Park Food Pantry

OLD IRVING PARK — The Irving Park Food Pantry is putting out a call for donations of personal care items after the pantry's entire stockpile of toiletries was stolen earlier this week.

"To just walk away with some shampoo and conditioner, I remain mystified," said John Psiharis, the pantry's executive director.

Psiharis was informed of the theft by staff at the Irving Park United Methodist Church, 3801 N. Keeler Ave., on Tuesday. The pantry operates out of the church's lower level, but is a separate organization from the church.

The pantry's stash of food, as well as laptops and other office equipment, was untouched, according to Psiharis.

But the pantry's collection of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and other toiletries — stored in a separate area from the food — was completely wiped out.

"It's harder to get those items. A lot of people don't think a food pantry would need them," Psiharis said. "Our volunteers, whenever they travel, will take all the samples from hotels."

Personal care items are particularly appreciated by the pantry's homeless clients and people living in SROs, Psiharis said.

"They depend on us," he said.

Word of the pantry's plight has spread quickly on social media and neighbors are already gathering donations to replace the stolen toiletries.

"We're blessed to enjoy tremendous goodwill in the community," said Psiharis. "If we put the need out there, the community responds."

The Irving Park Food Pantry was established more than 30 years ago and serves more than 500 households or approximately 1,400 individuals each month. Items are distributed every Wednesday morning and the second Tuesday of every month during evening hours.

Donations can be dropped off at 3801 N. Keeler Ave. (enter on Grace Street), where the pantry maintains collection bins during regular weekday business hours.

Toilet paper, feminine products, baby diapers and laundry detergent would be welcome in addition to soaps and shampoos.

The pantry is also in the midst of its annual coat drive and will accept donations of new or gently used coats, scarves, gloves, mittens and hats throughout the month of October. Last year, the pantry provided coats to more than 400 needy individuals, Psiharis said.

There is no description of the thief or thieves who took the toiletries.

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