Watch CBS News

Local Food Pantry Closes For A Week After Fireworks From New Year's Eve Celebration Cause Damage

CHICAGO (CBS) –Burn marks are left on the building of a popular food pantry on the northwest side after New Year's Eve fun turned destructive.

CBS 2's Shardaa Gray visited outside the Irving Park Community Food Pantry.

The Irving park community food pantry says they've never closed during the pandemic, until now.

The damage is small due to fireworks from New Year's Eve celebrations, which has the non-profit organization upset.

"Oh my god. I so sad because I love coming."

Anna Al-Saad is a volunteer here at Irving Park Community Food Pantry but also depends on it from time to time for groceries.

"I come one time a month, only. I shop only when I need it. Not everything," Al-Saad said.

Al-Saad says there are more people in the community who need it more than she does.

"I worry for the customers, all the customers. I see people who really, really need it," she said.

John Psiharis, executive director for the food pantry, says last year they helped 11,000 people, that's about 3,500 households. They see about 100 families each week.

"This is a first opportunity our clients have to come and get food in three weeks and now they're not able to do so," he said.

Psiharis says he lives right down the street from the food pantry and had no idea of the destruction that happened on New Year's Eve.

"Some neighborhood youth were playing with fireworks and they chose one of our recycling bins as a place to put their fireworks in and the recycling bins as a place to put their fireworks in and it caught fire," Psiharis said.

Although the damage is minimal, the impact is a big blow.

"It's kind of frustrating that, especially to our volunteers, that we made it through all of this and we had some firecrackers on New Year's Eve end up closing our food pantry for a week," Psiharis said.

The food is usually passed out in the basement, but it's filled with toxic fumes.

SHARDAA: There's a strong smell in here

JOHN: And that's what we need to get rid of before we can reopen.

Psiharis says they typically get deliveries on Monday, which they can't take today, but they should be good for next week.

And even though it's an inconvenience for the community this week, he says it could have been a lot worse.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.