From left: GoodKids MadCity organizers Tapha, Miracle, Jeremiah, Janiah, Camiella Williams and Arseny pose with a few donated items during their meeting Thursday at the Chicago Torture Justice Center. The youth and Williams, their adult mentor, hope to assist at least 100 people at their Oct. 22 giveaway. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

WOODLAWN — Youth activists are collecting donations of nonperishable food and winter clothes for at least 100 neighbors.

Organizers with GoodKids MadCity are taking donations 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Chicago Torture Justice Center, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave. The center is also supporting the mutual aid effort.

Organizers are asking neighbors to donate the following items:

  • Canned goods and other nonperishable food
  • Water
  • Toiletries and hygiene products
  • Baby formula and other baby products
  • New or lightly used winter clothing for women and children
  • Personal protective equipment, such as masks and sanitizing wipes

Items will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis 1-3 p.m. Oct. 22 at the southwest corner of Garfield Boulevard and LaSalle Street. Neighbors can also bring donations directly to the corner in the hour or so before the giveaway begins.

GoodKids MadCity received enough items for about 10 people as of Wednesday. The members’ goal is to gather as many donations as possible so they can serve 100-200 people at the giveaway and sustain the mutual aid effort for future events, they said.

For more information on the donation drive, email

Several youth organizers met at the torture justice center Wednesday to finalize plans for the giveaway. The project shows how community members love and look out for each other when other social structures break down, they said.

“I wanted to volunteer my time because I feel for the people who will show up,” said Janiah, a young organizer who did not give their last name. “I’ve been in a situation where I needed stuff like that, and we didn’t always have the resources or the people in our community [who could] give us stuff like that.”

GoodKids MadCity has led remote mutual aid programs since the pandemic, such as a fund for neighbors’ groceries and emergencies, said Camiella Williams, the organizers’ adult mentor.

But it’s a boost for organizers and recipients to participate in an in-person mutual aid project — “with faces, they know it’s community,” Williams said. “They know that people care.”

Showing face on the South Side also allows GoodKids MadCity to connect with other young people, organizers said. The giveaway offers a chance to point young people to resources and to introduce teens interested in community activism to the group’s work, they said.

“You could also get to know them and they say, ‘Hey, I need help with this,’ and our organization could help them with that,” organizer Arseny said. “It could benefit them, not just because of food, but in other ways as well.”

GoodKids MadCity is campaigning for City Council to pass a “Peacebook ordinance” that would direct 2 percent of the police budget to youth-led violence reduction efforts. Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) introduced the ordinance in June on the organization’s behalf.

The teens also called for more city funding toward food security and mutual aid programs at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The pandemic showed a need that the city wasn’t filling, and that’s why community members picked up and started to push more of what they were doing,” youth organizer Assata said. “Community helping community is super important and vital.”

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