By JOHN HUSTON Staff Writer Sunt Times Newsgroup
While other people are giving thanks, Anna Raisor will just be giving.
The Oak Park mother of two has worked for 30 years at PepsiCo. The company is rewarding her service by giving her $3,000 to spend on Thanksgiving dinner.
“I was like, ‘All right, do I do my family’s Thanksgiving? Do I take my coworkers out and drink all these expensive things?'” she pondered.
Instead, she is spending the money to cater a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
Raisor has been involved with West Suburban PADS for 10 years, annually helping cook the Thanksgiving meal served at First United Methodist Church, 324 N. Oak Park Ave.
This year, however, she’ll just help eat the turkey and ham dinner, sided by sweet potatoes, vegetables, apple walnut stuffing and pumpkin pie, prepared by Thyme and Honey Restaurant in Forest Park.
“They cook better than I do,” Raisor said.
“I pondered and pondered and I didn’t know what to do with this $3,000 gift,” she said. “Using it for PADS just seemed like the right thing to do.
“I have really, really strong feelings about social responsibility,” Raisor continued. “We’re all here together.”
That’s why she started donating her time helping the homeless.
“I have cooked Thanksgiving meals (for PADS) for the past nine years, and actually last year there was a woman that just sort of touched my heart,” Raisor said. “I had cooked all day with my sister and delivered it.”
The two were cleaning up afterward and a woman approached.
“She touched my arm and said, ‘Thanks for bringing a home to being homeless,'” Raisor said.
A group of about 80 people are expected to eat Thanksgiving dinner together – including Raisor’s family, co-workers and the homeless.
The Rev. Jan Powell, pastor at Pilgrim Congregational Church where Raisor worships, will join the group for dinner Thursday.
“She is one of a kind,” Powell said of Raisor. “She does a lot of things behind the scenes. Her commitment shows in what she does and she’s really a person who’s willing to go out of her own comfort zone to meet the needs of other people.”
Powell mentioned Raisor’s generosity in church recently.
“Every person who has heard the story has just been in awe,” Powell said. “You could hear it in the church, like, ‘Oooo, woooow.’ It was really something.”
Raisor seems hesitant to take credit for any undue credit, even resisting to a newspaper article about the donation.
“At first I said no,” she explained. “And then, I thought, ‘If it will get someone’s noodle going, if it’ll get them to share what they have, then absolutely.'”
Powell said Raisor’s gift is inspirational.
“It’s not that people all over Oak Park don’t do this, but this gives us a chance to say, ‘Yeah, on our best days we are who we say we are,'” she said.