JOLIET – Kimberly Preston has been searching for jobs during the past five years to earn enough money for food.
“It’s a godsend I’ve been able to have a meal every day,” said Preston, who is homeless and dined on a free lunch Thursday at the Morningstar Mission at 350 E. Washington St. “The economy is not growing enough for us on the lower rung.”
The free lunch was courtesy of Little Caesars Love Kitchen, a pizza kitchen in a truck that travels to sites around the United States and Canada giving free meals to the homeless, disaster survivors and the hungry.
The Love Kitchen traveled to the Morningstar Mission to feed more than 50 of the homeless Thursday. Pizza, chocolate milk and salad was available for those in dire situations.
The Love Kitchen will also open a free lunch at Daybreak Center in Joliet on Friday.
“It’s great that Little Caesars is doing this,” Preston said. “They’re really helping others.”
Joliet resident Marvin Stewart isn’t homeless. But he is in a job transition and many times doesn’t make enough to pay for a good meal. He’s still looking for a decent job.
“I’m really thankful to Little Caesars for the meal,” Stewart said. “I’m grateful a major corporation comes back to help people who need it.”
Morningstar Mission Executive Director Marilyn Farmer said it was the first time a big corporation has held an event like this at the shelter, adding it’s usually individuals or churches that hold similar free lunches.
“It’s a nice treat for our guests to have fresh home pizza,” Farmer said. “For our volunteers, it’s more rewarding for them to get the blessings from a guest.”
Shorewood resident Marge Lentes volunteered her time serving guests Thursday.
“I enjoy it and the satisfaction,” Lentes said. “The satisfaction comes when you see these people happy and smile and appreciate what you do.”
Love Kitchen operator Rick Moreno travels with the Little Caesars truck to different locations and sees that appreciation from people in need.
“It’s so rewarding to see the smile on the kids’ faces,” Moreno said. “This is why I do this.”