Don't like to read?
The Chicago organization Man Making a Difference (M.M.A.D) hosted another one of their community events. As a result, many children now have coats and toys for this Christmas Season.
On Christmas eve, the event took place at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Youth Center on the west side. Some of the sponsors included St. Agatha Church and St. Anthony Hospital. M.M.A.D gave away coats, scarves, gloves, and other winter essentials. Kids could also pick out toys to take home, and guests were welcome to hot chocolate and cookies.
Ajoyoi Mazerat, a first-time volunteer at the coat drive, has resolved this year to get back to the way things were before COVID-19. She talked about going back to Alderman meetings and attending community events. “Everyone needs to come back and be more active, be out.” Mazerat is a North Lawndale resident who watched her community survive a pandemic.
She was thrilled to get the opportunity to help folks get what they need to survive this winter. From her perspective, it was to give hope, a warm hug, and a loving hand. “That helps our community grow stronger. It helps Mr. Calhoun’s organization do its work and live out its whole purpose.”
The Will to Keep Going
Robert “Rock” Calhoun Sr. is one of the founding members of M.M.A.D along with Willie “Bobo” Johnson and Charlie Wilson (not of Gap Band fame). This event started five or six years ago with Calhoun wanting to buy hats and gloves for kids. The organizers see the giveaway as a “cold weather package” event, recognizing that they are in a community in need.
“One of the things we realize is you see a lot of children walking down the street with coats that’s not that good.” They decided to do their part to clothe the children for this cold time of the year. Wilson’s motivation for taking part in the coat drive is the smiles on people’s faces after benefiting from the giveaway.
One time, a little boy recognized him while walking down the street. “He said, ‘I remember you. You the one who gave me that coat and those toys.’ And that is motivation enough to keep me energized. To keep doing this, just to see the smile on their face.”
Dandee Klaus Greets Kids at M.M.A.D Annual Christmas Coat Drive
Santa Claus also made sure to make an appearance at the giveaway. Derek Brown, also known as Dandee Klaus, greeted kids as they picked out toys and coats. His motivation for taking up the mantle of the jolly bearded man was to remind the youth of where their gifts come from. “It’s our hard work and sweat” and not some “imaginary character,” as he put it. To him, every day is Christmas for him and his family. So, while everyone is chasing after personal gain, he thinks now is the time to give back and put smiles on people’s faces.
Brown has appeared as Dandee Klaus many times, saying demand for him was high this year. According to him, people are not drawn to the costume but its message. “Jump outside of our comfort zone, jump outside of these everyday traditions that we were taught, and let’s own them ourselves.”
After catching the new Spiderman sequel, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Brown and his family decided to spend their Christmas rewatching Marvel movies. I mentioned that I had heard great things about the film, to which he responded, “it’s time to stop hearing and seek for yourself.”
Wilson mentioned one of M.M.A.D’s mission statements:
If we can help one person change their direction from going on the wrong path, the whole of Chicago will benefit. If we could change the mindset of one person, I feel like our work was not in vain.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
M.M.A.D: Christmas Coat Drive, December 24, 2021
Images Courtesy of Chiagozie Onyewuchi