HYDE PARK — This Mother's Day weekend, Americans will be shelling out billions of dollars — almost $21 billion — on gifts for mom, according to projections from the National Retail Federation.
Saturday, one group of moms said what they would like most on Mother's Day is for some of those dollars and effort to go towards reducing violence in Chicago.
"Instead of spending that money on cards and flowers, direct just a small portion of that to fund major organizations working to reduce violence," said Deirdre Koldyke, president of the EarthHeart Foundation. "Now that would truly be a Mother's Day to celebrate."
Scores of mothers — including Pastor Jolinda Wade, mother of NBA star and Chicago native Dwayne Wade — held a "peace celebration" Saturday afternoon at the University of Chicago's International Assembly Hall. The event, which was hosted by EarthHeart Foundation, kicked off with a peace march through Woodlawn and Hyde Park led by the King College Prep High School drum line.
Speaking to a crowd of cheering moms, Koldyke said the march was a way to gather more mothers together and empower them to address violence which affects their children.
"We know that change is possible. We know that mothers are the key to that change," Koldyke said. "Mothers do matter, and every mother can change the world."
The group gathered Saturday acknowledged there was no easy solution to reducing violence.
But Wanda Wilburn, a mother from Englewood and one of the foundation's 'ambassadors for peace,' said part of the answer is simple: tell children they are loved.
"I don't care if they're firing up a blunt, take the time to tell them you love them," Wilburn said. "No matter what they may be doing, how they may be living, where they're coming from, it don't matter. We must tell them that we love them."
Wilburn said that includes refusing to be afraid of disaffected youth "walking down our streets."
Pastor Wade echoed a similar message of love. Touching on her own struggles with drugs and alcohol, Wade said parents need to love themselves first before they can love and support their children.
"If you don't like you, you're going to do an awful job to yourself," Wade said.
Wade said she skipped Friday night's Bulls-Heat playoff game - where her son contributed 10 points to the Heat's walloping of the Bulls - to spend time visiting women in the Cook County jail who will not be able to spend time with their children this Mother's Day.
She said mothers must strive to set a strong example for their kids to keep them out of trouble.
"Those children that we love — the gift that God gave us — are gonna see what we do, gonna watch the walk we walk, and some of them are gonna fall into the same holes [of drugs and alcohol]," Wade said.