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Chicago nonprofit opens table to migrants for Thanksgiving dinner

A Thanksgiving welcome for migrants in Chicago's Englewood community
A Thanksgiving welcome for migrants in Chicago's Englewood community 02:10

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For some migrants now living in Chicago, this will be their first Thanksgiving in the U.S.

And while they are far from home, one Englewood group is making sure they feel welcome. As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Wednesday night, some migrants say through it all, they feel thankful too.

Outside the Englewood (7th) District police station, 1438 W. 63rd St., tents cover the sidewalk. Inside the tents, migrants who hail primarily from South America wait for what's next.

For some, the next move was out of the cold, onto a bus, and into an Englewood church for a hot Thanksgiving meal.

Deonte Tanner runs Servants for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to education, mental health support, and fighting food insecurity.

"If there's a need, we want meet that need," Tanner said. "We to help meet that need."

Tanner said after previously witnessing the despair in front of the Englewood District police station, he wanted to include the migrants in his annual Thanksgiving dinner.

"The hardest part was just figuring out how we were going to transport them," said Tanner. "But including them in the actual dinner? That was easy."

At the dinner Wednesday night, Renzo Marca spoke through an interpreter.

"He's thankful for the moment that he's having right now with everybody, and just being here with everyone that's' enjoying themselves and eating," the interpreter said. "So he's just happy to be here."

Marca said he has faced an incredible amount of adversity and challenges since leaving his home in Peru.

"A lot of violence, a lot of arrests – but through it all, they were able to make it here, and they're very grateful to be here now," the interpreter said for Marca, "and they feel a lot safer being here."

But some across Chicago, including in Englewood, have not been as welcoming – and have even protested the resources being used for migrants.

Tanner said it is his goal to help anyone in need – no matter where they're from.

"It's on all of us. This is our community," Tanner said. "Once they're in our community, they're part of the community – and it's on us to welcome them in."

They left with a full stomach, new coats for the winter – and through it all, gratitude, despite not knowing what's next.

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