Mother of gun violence victim continues mission to bring joy to Chicago children

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A mother who lost her son to gun violence in 2020 is continuing her mission of bringing joy to children in Chicago.

Last year, Jalisa Ford organized the first One Jar Foundation Holiday Toy Drive, and she’s getting ready to do it again.

“So much joy and excitement to me, to my heart, just wonderful to see smiles on kids’ faces and do a good deed for my community,” Ford said.

The heartwarming display of holiday giving came just months after she endured an unspeakable loss.

Her son, 9-year-old Janari Ricks, an honor roll student who loved sports and Christmas was shot and killed while playing outside the Cabrini-Green row homes.

“It’s such a tragic moment that he’s no longer here with us, however he is here in spirit. I know holiday time is such a tragic moment and a joyful time to be with family and friends, so it’s important to me for the holidays because it was special to him and special to me as well,” Ford said.

Ford said she is leaning on faith, positivity and purpose. Honoring Janari’s memory by spreading support to kids in the neighborhood with the joy of a new toy.

“With the toy drive and the One Jar Foundation, it’s just been a blessing to give back to the Near North Side community,” Ford said.

She’s collecting donations right now and new toys will be distributed to children on December 18 at Holy Family Church.

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