CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nearly 60,000 people in Chicago don't have homes. They live on the streets near your favorite stores, in the heat, in the rain and in the cold. The need for help is even greater now, as the pandemic stretches support systems thin.
One Chicago family is answering the call for help with kind words and a warm meal.
A good meal can go a long way. It just needs the right ingredients, including some that just can't be found in a grocery store.
Attila Cseh and his family founded and operate the non-profit Bags of Hope Chicago. They drive around the city every week handing out warm, home-cooked meals to those without homes. Those meals come with bags full of toiletries and goodies.
The good deeds are prompted by his own personal experience; Cseh said he and his family know what it's like to be homeless.
"Here I am, living with three kids, having $120K a year job, enjoying life. Now you're down to nothing, nothing," he said. "Here I am in the ICU. And you're sitting there thinking, what am I gonna do? How are we gonna do this?"
Cseh was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2016. He spent more than 400 days in the hospital. Medical bills started piling up and the money started running out.
"As I went through it, all of a sudden my heart just broke and walls came down," he recalled.
Through the pain, support from the community emerged. People began donating their personal homes for the family to use while Cseh was in treatment. After that came the idea to pay it forward. His son Daniel started handing out food to people in need outside his father's hospital.
"I kinda felt like I needed to help someone, and those people just looked like they needed, kinda like they needed help," Daniel said.
And so, Bags of Hope was born.
Cseh said the homeless population in Chicago has increased by at least 34% since the beginning of the pandemic. Right now, Bags of Hope is making meals in their home and will soon move to a bigger space. They are also looking for volunteers. If you'd like to volunteer, help or donate, visit bagsofhopechicago.org