Willie Wilson to distribute 5 million face masks at three Chicago churches

The former mayoral candidate will distribute face masks Saturday at three churches, one on the West Side and two on the South Side. He had planned to hand them out at the United Center, which backed out of the event.

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Dr. Willie Wilson handing out face masks for Little Village residents at Mt. Sinai Hospital on April 15, 2020.

Dr. Willie Wilson handed out face masks for Little Village residents at Mt. Sinai Hospital in April. Now, he plans to hand out more masks Saturday at three churches.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson has found three new locations to distribute 5 million free face masks after the United Center decided not to host Saturday’s giveaway.

“This is personal to me. I have lost nine ministers and friends to COVID-19,” Wilson said in a statement. “Our God has blessed me with the resources to make this historic donation of five million face masks to help save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The distribution will instead happen in the parking lots of three churches: Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on the West Side, and Apostolic Church of God and House of Hope, both on the South Side.

“It is well documented that there is a shortage of face masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and the general public,” Wilson said. “During this pandemic so many people have lost their jobs and can’t afford to buy face masks or pay their rent.”

The masks will be handed out at:

  • Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 2622 W. Jackson Blvd., 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave. 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St. 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

On Wednesday, Wilson announced the United Center had backed out of the giveaway he intended to help the public and first-responders. 

“When we were approached by Dr. Wilson’s organization to distribute masks, we reviewed their plans thoroughly and it was clear that their plans did not meet our critically important safety guidelines,” Terry Savarise, the United Center’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Wilson said he has donated more than 2 million masks since the pandemic hit Illinois. Many of these masks have went to the Cook County Jail, the Chicago Transit Authority, senior citizen homes and first-responders.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.

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