CHICAGO — A community activist in Englewood is focused on helping young residents who are having to stay home from school.
Latonya Johnson had a goal of giving away 1000, what she calls “COVID-19 Activity Relief Bags.” She has surpassed that goal and hopes to give out even more.
She calls it a labor of love.
Johnson is the founder of LaTonya & The Youth of Englewood organization. She said she wanted to create something for kids to do during the pandemic.
“I just had to figure out what it was I needed to do for kids,” she said.
Her bags have include everything from healthy snacks to coloring books to crayons.
“We still want them to continue on your education, but there is a little bit but fun in here,” she said. “Barbie dolls, puzzles … just all type of stuff.”
Johnson enlisted the help of friends, some of which dug into their pockets to donate money to buy items to fill the bags.
Angel Lofton is on the board of the organization.
“I think a lot of the parents can’t afford to buy some of these things because they’re thinking about the necessities,” she said. “So this will take some stress off the parents financially, where they’re able to have fun things for the kid over a period of time.”
Johnson also reached out to other organizations. Natalie Manning is with the organization This Is Life.
“The parents are probably pulling their hair out,” she said. “Some parents are working from home as well during these times. So being able to keep them busy … this helps a lot in timekeeping.”
For Johnson, the reaction she gets from kids let’s her know it all worth it.
“And the smiles on the faces when we see them – like, that’s the that’s the whole, that’s the biggest thing right there, to see those beautiful smiles,” she said.
Those interested in receiving a bag can go to the Youth of Englewood Facebook page and sign up. They are free and there are no income requirements.
Anyone interested in donating money or items for the bag can also find information on the Facebook page.