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Chicago Pastor Offers Help After West Side Woman Is Charged With Leaving 7 Children Alone In Apartment

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago pastor and victims' advocate was offering help Sunday for a West Side mother who was charged after her seven children were found alone in an apartment.

The Rev. Donovan Price of Street Pastors said Jessie Hunt's story has touched many people because many are in need right now.

Donovan hopes Hunt's story inspires others to come forward to ask for help before it's too late.

"Nobody's going to judge you. If you're going to come forward, we've gathered several resources for you, including a house that someone is willing to rent to you, among other things you may need – bedding, furniture – all the things you need for a good start an da nice start for this new year," Price said.

Hunt, 31, is facing child endangerment charges after the seven children under the age of 14 were found alone in what should have been a vacant apartment in the Humboldt Park neighborhood apartment Friday.

Officers responded to a call of a check of wellbeing in the 700 block of North Trumbull Avenue shortly before 4 p.m. Friday and found the children in a first-floor apartment that would otherwise have been vacant, police said.

Inside were a 14-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy, a 7-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl, a 4-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, and a 23-month-old baby.

Neighbors who spoke to CBS 2 said they don't know how long the family was in the apartment. Some neighbors recognized the family some didn't, but what quickly became plain is no one knew what kind of life they were living, and from what was described in court, it was a difficult one.

The property owner had been trying to get into the building, but the door was closed off with a wooden two-by-four. A building manager was surprised to discover the children living in the apartment that had been vacant for some time. It does not appear the children were abandoned. However, it is unclear if there was heat in the apartment.

Hunt appeared before a judge Saturday and was released on $10,000 recognizance bond, meaning she doesn't have to pay bail if she makes all her required court dates.

Prosecutors described the conditions in the home in court Saturday, saying officers found the apartment scattered with garbage. The stove burners were on, and the kitchen sink was overflowing with water that smelled like sewage. The children had been using the bathtub as a toilet. There were knives laid out all over the kitchen along with empty frozen pizza boxes.

One child told one of the officers that the mom had left to get a kitchen sink, prosecutors said. The children told the officers the last time they ate was the previous day.

Prosecutors also asked that any contact the mother has with the children be under the Department of Children and Family Services recommendation and evaluation.

Hunt's defense described the single mother as a lifelong resident of Cook County who has received her GED and is raising seven children and said none of the children had any injuries.

All seven children were taken to St. Mary's Hospital in good condition. DCFS is investigating, and the children have all been placed with a relative.

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