Chicago organizations lead local relief effort for Texas disaster

Black Men United, World Vision and J. Prince helped organize 2,400 boxes of food, 27 pallets of bottled water and more essentials for Houston residents impacted by record freezing temperatures in Texas.

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President of Black Men United, Pastor John Harrell, talks about the partnership between World Vision and Black Men United to gather the necessary items at announcement of the movement of three semi trailers to Texas to help those in need during a press conference outside of the the World Vision building at 5001 W Harrison St in South Austin, Monday, March 1, 2021.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago-area leaders have joined a national effort to help Texans in need after a devastating winter storm left millions of residents freezing and without power.

Rev. John Harrell, president of Black Men United, organized the relief effort with the emergency response nonprofit World Vision and Houston native J. Prince — a music executive who founded Rap-A-Lot Records.

“No man is an island and we can’t do this thing by ourselves,” said Harrell, pastor of Proviso Missionary Baptist Church in Maywood. “Black Men United is really simple, we are just trying to be positive, progressive and productive … we realized it is better to build bridges than build walls.”

Harrell said the effort began with a call to Jonathan Smith, the site manager of World Vision’s Chicago facility at 5001 W. Harrison St.

Smith then began calling other World Vision facilities across the country to work on getting the relief to Texas. 

On Sunday, a 53-foot trailer left the West Side warehouse filled with diapers, hand sanitizer, face masks, hygienic wipes, blankets, space heaters and generators. That trailer arrived in Houston Sunday night.

“During this pandemic, World Vision has really embedded themselves into the community,” Smith said. “We have really focused on collaborating with our partners locally and nationally to ensure most vulnerable families are taken care of in the communities.”

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) and state Rep. La Shawn Ford also showed their support for the initiative on Monday.

Snow and record freezing temperatures in Texas led to massive failures in its state power grid. Some residents burned their own belongings to keep warm. Long lines filled grocery stores and clean water became scarce. Several deaths were reported as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from people operating cars or gasoline-powered generators indoors to keep warm.

Two other trucks, from World Vision facilities in Dallas and Indianapolis, also delivered aid to Houston. In all, the three trucks hauled 2,400 boxes of food and 27 pallets of bottled water and other essentials.

Black Men United will help distribute the goods on Tuesday at J. Prince’s Boxing Complex in Houston.

A local relief effort led to three truckloads of supplies, including diapers and space heaters, being sent to Texas. These were displayed outside the local World Vision facility, 5001 W. Harrison St., in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

A local relief effort led to three truckloads of supplies, including diapers, space heaters, and portable generators, being sent to Texas. These were displayed outside the local World Vision facility, 5001 W. Harrison St., in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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