‘Body of Christ’ at Champaign parish unites in Thanksgiving Basket Ministry

The Thanksgiving Basket Ministry of St. Matthew Parish in Champaign on Nov. 18 delivered nearly 240 baskets brimming with Thanksgiving dinner fixings and more to families struggling with food insecurity in the Champaign-Urbana area. Here, baskets dropped off near the church await delivery. (Provided photo/Sarah Budden)

By Paul Thomas Moore

CHAMPAIGN — There are Thanksgiving baskets, and then there are Thanksgiving baskets. Since 2021, the Thanksgiving Basket Ministry at St. Matthew Parish here has specialized in the latter variety.

“Basket” is really the polite term for these 18-gallon bins, which include 27 items for creating a Thanksgiving meal, as well as toiletries, soap, and other needs.

On Nov. 18, in conjunction with St. Matthew School, nearly 240 baskets were donated to families struggling with food insecurity in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Members of the St. Matthew School softball team worked together to donate six baskets. (Provided photo/Jacque Scheighart)

From 8 until 11 a.m., a steady stream of parishioners dropped off baskets, followed by a team of delivery drivers that would make Amazon proud, fanning out to deliver them to the homes of those in need.

“It was beautiful to see the Body of Christ work together to serve our fellow friends and neighbors. Each person volunteering, donating a basket or funds (more than $11,000 total), and social service worker, played an important role in making this possible,” said Emily Troscinski, the Thanksgiving Basket Ministry lead and a St. Matthew parishioner.


She added that each Thanksgiving basket had an approximate retail value of $115.

The operation involved an estimated 63 volunteers, as well as St. Matthew School students and teachers, and 11 local social service agencies.

Employees of OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center and OSF Medical Group participated in the Thanksgiving ministry for a second year, donating 26 baskets and delivering 14.

Every Thanksgiving basket was blessed with a “prayer bag,” which included cards or notes individually designed by St. Matthew students from all grades, a prayer card, information on St. Matthew Mass times, and a booklet about Advent including information on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6), along with several chocolate coins in keeping with the St. Nick’s Day tradition.

“We are so grateful for Father John (Zilimu), Father Julien (Esse), and Father (Andru) O’Brien at St. Matthew for helping this ministry grow. This Thanksgiving, we hope all the basket recipients feel the love of Christ through their neighbors at St Matthew Catholic Church,” said Troscinski.




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