Low on toys, donations sought for South Side holiday celebration

Chicago News

CHICAGO   Organizers of a holiday celebration on the city’s South Side are appealing to the public for help after a last-minute donation fell through.

While the Soul Children of Chicago expects hundreds of kids for a holiday celebration at XS Tennis at 53rd and State, the foundation says they’re running low on toys.

Former member LaQuan Lark-Okaiteye was a part of the Soul Children of Chicago 40 years ago from the very beginning and she continues to work with the choir as an alum.

“It’s more than a song,” Lark-Okaiteye said. “We help the community. We go out. We do all types of different things.”

As crews work to transform tennis courts into Santa’s village and set the stage for the choir to sing, Soul Children of Chicago members reflected on the past year’s hardships.

“So many people are depressed going through the stress. Kids are stressed out, so for us, it’s our 40th year. It’s my desire to bless our city,” Dr. Walt Whitman, Soul Children of Chicago CEO, said.

With a shortage of gifts, Soul Children of Chicago members ask that the public make donations.

“We want you to give, give, give to every single solitary person,” Lark-Okaiteye said. “We want to be able to give them something. We want to be able to say they left with a smile, that we blessed each and every household.”

During Sunday service, Pastor James Meeks donated $5,000 in gift cards for the effort. 

Soul Children of Chicago members say no matter what, they are determined to make it work and excited to give back to the community. 

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“People are coming together,” Whitman said. “I believe things are going to work out.”

The Soul Santa’s Village is free and open to the public from 3-7 Monday, Dec. 20. Gift-givers may still drop off new and unwrapped toys at X-S Tennis. Anyone interested in donating may also click here.

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