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Christmas starts early as Chicago families receive food, protective equipment

Organizations that attended and provided supplies included New City Church in DuPage County, the Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, ComEd, among many others.

Volunteers load boxes of food into a car during Christmas in the Wards’ “Day of Giving” at Soldier Field, Friday morning, Nov. 6, 2020. Christmas in the Wards partners with community organizations and politicians annually to distribute food and supplies to families in need. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Volunteers load boxes of food into a car during Christmas in the Wards’ “Day of Giving” at Soldier Field. Christmas in the Wards partners with community organizations and politicians annually to distribute food and supplies to families in need.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The weather may have been in the 70s, but Christmas began early for some Chicago families on Friday.

Christmas in the Wards teamed up with aldermen, local organizations and others for a “Day of Giving” to provide Chicago families with food, personal protective equipment and other necessities.

Organizations that pitched in included New City Church in DuPage County, the Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, ComEd and others.

Larry Huggins, chairman of Christmas in the Wards — which provides gifts to families in need — said the South Side group has held annual distribution for 24 years. Friday, items were given away in two locations — a Soldier Field parking lot and the Universal Entertainment Center at 119th and Loomis streets.

“It’s a combination of what we’ve been doing for the last 24 years and giving back to the community,” Huggins said.

At both locations, people sat in their cars and picked up food boxes that included frozen meats, dairy and fresh produce. They also received bags filled with reusable face masks, hand sanitizers and socks.

For people like 32-year-old Shasta Grossett, this all came right on time.

Shasta Grossett poses for a picture after receiving a box of food during Christmas in the Wards’ “Day of Giving” at Soldier Field, Friday morning, Nov. 6, 2020. Christmas in the Wards partners with community organizations and politicians annually to distribute food and supplies to families in need. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Shasta Grossett was among those who benefited from Christmas in the Wards’ “Day of Giving” at Soldier Field.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Grossett, who lives in a Chicago Housing Authority building in Bronzeville, said she worked as a dialysis technician before she had to take time off due to a health condition. Three months later, her husband also couldn’t work because of a COVID-19 outbreak at his job.

“So in total, we’ve lost about six months of income,” Grossett said. “So this is really, really helpful.”

Grossett said she heard about the “Day of Giving” event from a friend, and felt that distributions like this are something people who struggle with finances should take advantage of more.

“There’s so many people that are struggling that don’t know about these resources and are embarrassed to ask for help,” she said.

There were also those who picked up food for others, such as South Side resident Debra Rogers, who works as a caregiver.

“I’m blessed more than some, so I like to be a blessing to others,” Rogers said.

Rogers said with the pandemic putting many family breadwinners out of work, it was a “beautiful thing” to see the different people and organizations who came out to distribute food and supplies to those in need.

Though Christmas in the Wards is based on the South Side and serves 30 wards, Huggins said the goal to expand to all 50. He said the group hoped to hand out 2,000 boxes of food and PPE at the two locations combined.

The goal is to help struggling families celebrate Christmas. In December, Huggins said, the group will again distribute laptop computers to families in need.

“People need help,” he said. “And any time you can do anything to help and if you’re in a position to do that ... it’s simply the right thing to do.”