Donations top $230K for West Side nuns without heat

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than $200,000 has been donated for a group of nuns living without heat on Chicago's West Side. They need a new boiler system and an online fundraising campaign is helping them get their heat restored.

While they have lived in cold, the nuns say their hearts are full of warmth after so many Chicagoans came forward to help. Despite their heating issues, giving never stopped for the nuns - they continued to operate their daily soup kitchen and food pantry.

Every dime they raise goes to the people they serve, so when two boilers broke down at the West Side church belonging to the Fraternite Notre Dame nuns, living without heat was the only option. Their sanctuary dipped to 34 degrees, and even the holy water froze.

"We have no salary, and everything we have we give everything totally to the poor people we help, needy children, poor families," said Sister Marie-Valerie, Fraternite Notre Dame.

The nuns were told a new boiler system could cost $200,000. With no rainy day fund to pay for them, the French nuns did what they do best.

"As nuns, we prayed, of course. We prayed and asked God to help us and you see the results are just great, because so many people helped us," said Sister Marie-Myriam, Fraternite Notre Dame.

Their prayers were answered in just three days with the help of two GoFundMe pages, including one created by Windy City Live. The nuns reached their goal on Monday's show, and sisters Marie-Valerie and Marie-Myriam were surprised with a big additional donation from Mercy Homes, making the amount raised over $230,000.

The money that will not only pay for a boiler, but a leaky roof and the several programs the nuns operate every day.

"We were very impressed by how the people react so fast. They were really concerned about our problem, and we are so happy and we are so grateful," said Sister Marie-Myriam.

"We really want to thank everyone in Chicago for helping," said Sister Marie-Valerie.

Heating contractors have been working on fixing and replacing the boilers, and now part of the church has heat. It will take a couple days before the entire building is restored.

In the meantime, the nuns will continue to help the 200,000 people they serve every year through their soup kitchen, food pantry and other programs.

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