Wilson planning $1 million new grocery, gasoline giveaway

Pete’s Fresh Market and Cermak Fresh Market will host the grocery giveaway in 29 Chicago-area stores. The 15 participating gas stations have not been announced.

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Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson (right) speaks to reporters on Friday, May 20, 2022 at his condominium.

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson (right) speaks to reporters on Friday inside his condominium about his $1 million donation to assist seniors and Illinois residents with gas and food.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate and businessman Willie Wilson is planning another $1 million giveaway, but his focus now goes beyond free gasoline.

This time, Wilson also is paying to distribute free groceries to those in need.

“Food prices are so high,” Wilson said. “Everybody is in some type of need with these economic times. They need stuff. Prices are high, gasoline is high, everything seems to be very high.”

The giveaway is a partnership with Pete’s Fresh Market and Cermak Fresh Market. Each received $200,000 to participate in the giveaway, scheduled for sometime next week.

The rest of the money will go toward another gas giveaway in Cook and DuPage counties and to delivering groceries directly to seniors in need.

Wilson announced his latest plans inside his 49th-floor Loop condominium, but offered few other details, such as exactly when the food giveaway will happen or what senior homes will receive the aid. He said 15 gas stations are participating, but did not say which ones.

Details will be on his Facebook page, he said.

It is also unclear if there are restrictions on qualifying for the food giveaway, or if it is simply first come, first served.

He did say over 180 senior buildings throughout the city will receive aid on a rolling basis next week. Between them, Cermak and Pete’s have 29 locations, and each will oversee the distribution of groceries.

Vanessa Dremonas, executive officer of Pete’s Fresh Market, said she was “not at liberty to discuss the details of the giveaway” as of Friday evening but the grocer is “happy that the Willie Wilson Foundation sees Pete’s Market as a strong, community based grocer that can help execute his vision of helping local residents, immediately and directly.”

Cermak Fresh Market didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wilson already has spent over $2 million in three gas giveaway events. While the last two events went relatively smoothly, the first caused massive traffic jams, tying up police for hours during morning commutes.

Richard Boykin, candidate for president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, said Wilson’s latest $1 million donation will help senior citizens and “all of the citizens of Illinois, even beyond Cook County.”

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