ENGLEWOOD — Police from the Englewood District will throw a private birthday party for the eldest of the three sisters found living in a dirty, cold vacant apartment, the latest effort by the department to support the sisters, including fundraising nearly $100,000 for the trio.
The Anderson sisters — Destiny, 7, Derricka, 2, and Errika, 1, dubbed "The Englewood Angels" — were found when officers from the Englewood District responded to a well-being call in the 6300 block of South Green Avenue at 6:20 a.m. on Nov. 6, according to Officer Kevin Quaid, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.
The girls were found alone in the apartment, which had no electricity or heat. They are now temporarily living with their grandmother, Delores Anderson.
Since last month, more than $90,000 has been raised to help the girls through a GoFundMe page launched by Officer Charles Artz. The fundraising goal is set at $100,000; as of midday Monday, the amount raised was just $5,000 short of that total.
People from across the country have come together to donate to the sisters, with more than $89,000 raised in just the first week the GoFundMe was live.
For locals, donations and gifts can be dropped off at the police station, 1438 W. 63rd St.
'Overwhelmed' By Support
A police source with the Englewood District — who requested anonymity, citing a CPD policy against discussing fundraising efforts conducted on officers' personal time — said the girls and their grandmother are doing well, and are “overwhelmed” by the support they've received.
“People have been calling from all over wanting to help,” the source said.
Anderson, who now has temporary custody of the girls according to a police source, said she has two months to find a new home because her landlord said moving the girls to her apartment violated her lease.
Anderson is also now unemployed, having been let go from the temp service agency where she worked when she took time off to care for her granddaughters, she said.
“She will need help continuously, and we just want to give her a head start,” the police source said.
Stepping up to help was instinctive for the Englewood District officers, the police source said: “if you’re human, how can you not help?”
The source said the department doesn't want credit for starting the fundraiser, which was characterized as a collaborative effort between local police, the community and Good Samaritans from other states.
“No one person did this, there’s no 'I' in this at all,” the source said. “When it hit the news, it hit a soft spot in everyone.”
Girls' Father Arrested, Charged
While police were on the scene, the girls' father, Derrick D. Anderson, returned, and was placed in custody. The Department of Children and Family Services was notified, and Derrick D. Anderson was charged with one felony count of domestic battery.
The grandmother lives a few blocks from where the girls were found, but said she didn’t know how they ended up in the abandoned building.
“Last thing I heard they were staying with the girls' mother’s mom, but I since heard her mother lost her place," she said.
Anderson said she had grown apart from her son and his daughters’ mother, 23-year-old Bianca Johnson. She said both parents are unemployed.
Destiny, 7, who has started school for the first time in her life, will need help paying for uniforms and school supplies.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said that these sisters were fortunate to be found, unlike 4-year-old Manuel "Manny" Aguilar, whose dead malnourished body was found in a burning abandoned building August 2016.
“Oftentimes people are afraid to speak out when they see troubling situations out of fear that somehow it’s going to reflect on them, or that the city or government is going to start looking into their lives,” he said.
A Community Effort
Lopez said that the community needs to start speaking up when they see something that could be child abuse or negligence.
He said he’s working with the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services to create a "fact sheet" that will educate residents on how to handle situations where they suspect a child's welfare is in danger.
“They need to know that they can actually come forward without having to worry about people looking into their own house,” he said. “We just want to help these children.”
The Englewood District has offered the services of a financial planner to help the grandmother, Lopez said.
“They’ve been very helpful in not only in raising the donations, but also helping her plan for the young girls moving forward,” Lopez said. “The goal is that they’re able to be taken care of for the long haul. The next hurdle will be the guardianship of the young girls, so hopefully we can help the grandmother come up with a way to keep the family together.”
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