In the months following the recent looting incidents across the city’s South Side, many communities are still without access to grocery stores and pharmacies. With residents already living in impoverished neighborhoods with food deserts, the absence of resources puts them at an increased disadvantage. Wanting to help those in need, Michael Collins, Founder of Run From Prostate Cancer and Corie Luckett, Owner of Englewood Branded, decided to come together to host a series of community food drives.
“The partnership came from people being genuine. We all have a love for our communities. And as a concerned resident and business owner, I understood the importance of women having the necessities to take care of their kids”, says Corie Luckett. He later said, “I’m the type of person that when it comes to the community, and you call me about it, I’m in. Because it is a direct effect, it helps the youth, and I want to provide something for them to see that’s positive. And have something else to emulate. And that’s why I do what I do.”
Since the first event, which took place in Englewood, the two have gone to Roseland, Altgeld Gardens, Woodlawn, and this past Sunday, in South Shore. They have also been joined by stylist and Creator of Row A, Seat 1, Bebe Jones. At each event, the donation drop-off occurs from 8 am-11 am, with community pickup from noon to 3 pm.
Michael Collins says, “I appreciate people just wanting to step up and help. We cannot let this keep going on. We have to keep fighting for change in our neighborhoods.” Adding, “We’ve noticed that there are other events that have taken place following us, and that’s what it’s all about. To leave a mark and keep inspiring others.”
With stations to stop and pick up items, community members can receive toiletries, clothes, canned goods, diapers, formula, fresh produce, and water. All of which are sorted and arranged by volunteers during set up. Each event starts with a prayer circle, and there is also a designated area for residents to register to vote.
When asked what it means to go into these neighborhoods and help those in need, Michael said, “It means a lot. I was born in Robert Taylor Homes, so I know what it’s like not to have. We know we’re oppressed. We know we’re behind in everything there is, and a lot of our people don’t have any hope. So if it’s giving hope, or giving life, or giving love, it means a lot knowing that we can help. And that’s a blessing in itself.”
To date, they have received support from neighborhood Black businesses, notable community members, bag donations from Trader Joes, and members of Black Greek letter organizations. In addition, they have helped 1600 people in total and have an average of 30 volunteers who come out to each event.
“Me personally, I’m happy to be a part of this. I’m grateful that Michael and Corie asked me to join in and assist with this project. It has been very humbling, commendable, and my heart is always overjoyed every time we hold an event. And that’s because of the response from the people. To see their faces and to know that they are genuinely appreciative. We never have any violence, and even the officers who come out to patrol the area are helpful. I want to also thank you to everyone who has been a part of this and supported and donated”, says Bebe Jones.
When it comes to future donations, they have found that some of the most needed items include diapers, formula, canned goods, and vitamins. In regards to vitamins, Michael said, “A lot of people don’t have access to vitamins, which’s a major issue. So we need zinc, iron, and vitamins C and D.”
After a successful run on the south side, the trio is working on holding later events in Calumet City, the west side, and having a grand finale in Englewood. Corie said, “That’s what it’s about, supporting our people, supporting our communities, and being able to be a service.”
The next community food drive will be on Sunday, August 9th, at Crane Medical Prep High School. For more information and to find out how to donate, visit Corie, Bebe, and Michael’s Instagrams at @englewoodbranded, @rowaseat1, and @runfromprostatecancer.
Contributing Writer, Racquel Coral is a lifestyle writer based in Chicago. Find her on social media @withloveracquel.