ENGLEWOOD — An Englewood native needs a little help from the community to reach his goal of buying Christmas presents and essentials for hundreds of South Side children.
Servants For Hope, a non-profit that serves low-income families in marginalized communities by “changing the narrative,” will hold its sixth annual Holiday Giveaway 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at 63rd and Justine streets. Families can go to pick up wrapped presents.
Parents and guardians can register for the event by texting HOPE at 844-519-0137. Registered families will receive toys and essentials first.
After Tanner exceeded his goal for his annual Turkey Drive, he applied the extra funds toward the holiday presents — but he’s about $3,000 short of reaching his Christmas goal, he said. This year, he aims to raise $20,000 and buy presents for 1,000 kids in the community. You can donate here.
Donations of money help founder Deonte Tanner fulfill gift wishlists for families who sign up. The presents — ranging from sports items to books and coats — are all geared to encourage “cognitive development,” Tanner said.
“Although I love what I do for Thanksgiving, Christmas is drastically different for me,” Tanner said. “When I think about the struggles that I had growing up in Englewood, like not knowing if I would wake up on Christmas day with toys or a tree, it means the world to me to know that I can provide a sigh of relief for some parents. And when I look at the kids’ faces, and they’re smiling and happy, that’s a great moment for me.”
Tanner’s first giveaway was in 2016, three weeks before the holiday.
With the help of his two best friends, Tanner raised $1,000 for presents for families in his community. On Christmas Day, families came in and out of his mother’s home to grab gifts.
“It all started at my mom’s house as an idea about wanting to do something special for a family,” Tanner said. “And then it turned into this whole idea of a giveaway right inside my mom’s living room.”
Every year, Tanner has been able to scale up the giveaway to serve more families. These days, he’s known for closing down aisles in stores to grab gifts for the kids. It’s all possible through donations, he said.
“Knowing that we’re alleviating the financial burden for families and providing hope for the community is always what I aspire to do,” Tanner said. “The holidays should be about the children and everyone coming together as a village. I like to look at myself as a small vessel. I’m looking forward to putting smiles on at least 1,000 kids’ faces. That’s something I’ll take with me and remember forever.
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