ENGLEWOOD — The first "Christmas Extravaganza Good In the Wood Toy Drive Give Away" will distribute 1,000 toys to children on Dec. 17.
Devry S. Graham, president and owner of Graham Funeral Directors, said he decided to hold the drive after four children under age 10 were shot in the neighborhood this summer.
All four survived the shootings, he said.
Devry Graham is the president and owner of Graham Funeral Directors. [Facebook]
"Over the summer, there was such a bad taste in the city and community's mouth concerning policing and violent crime, that we just wanted to show that there are some people out here who are not trying to do stuff to be seen, but they really care about what goes on with our children," Graham said. "We want to show them a better way. I don't believe this generation is lost, I just think they need better examples."
Three of the children were injured in two separate incidents blocks apart in July. The victims included a 4-year-old boy who was outside a home in the 5700 block of South Morgan Street when a car drove up and someone inside the car fired shots at 5:45 p.m. July 6. That came two days after a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy were playing in the 5500 block of South Hermitage Avenue at 11 p.m. when two shooters appeared from a nearby gangway and opened fire, police said.
In addition to the free toys, the four gunshot survivors will each receive $500 trust accounts to go toward future college tuition.
In the past, Graham and a friend would donate to the Englewood Back-to-School Parade, but he said he wanted to do something different.
This year, with the help of community partners including the youth-focused nonprofit "Think Outside Da Box," Hamilton Park Advisory Council and Uncle Remus Chicken, Graham will host a Christmas party for children in the community.
In addition to toys, there will be free food, live music and a comedy performance. The event will be hosted by BET's Lady Lunchabell. The party will take place at Hamilton Park Field House, 513 W. 72nd St., from 2-5 p.m.
Participants don't have to register, Graham said.
"We just want children to be present, we want them to come," he said. "I don't want to anyone to feel like a charity case. Just come out and enjoy the day."
People can still donate by calling 773-240-4700.
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