Five Chicago stories to warm your heart this holiday

Five Chicago stories to warm your heart this holiday

The news can be kind of a bummer, right? We're no exception. Always reporting on the gaping racial disparities, political corruption, and someone short-changing the poor.

So today, in honor of the holiday, we bring you five sweet stories from around Chicago. The kind of stories that will make you feel good about your city. Because, although we know it has its problems, Chicago also has a lot of good people who care about each other and want to make the city a better place for all.

So today, in honor of the holiday, we bring you five sweet stories from around Chicago. The kind of stories that will make you feel good about your city. Because, although we know it has its problems, Chicago also has a lot of good people who care about each other and want to make the city a better place for all.

1. Chatham 9 year-old collects 593 toys for Hurricane Sandy Victims

This kid is practically his own Christmas special:

Third-grader Samuel Love plans to ship nearly 600 toys he collected for victims of Hurricane Sandy off to New York Thursday from a South Side post office, despite the frightful weather.

The 9-year-old boy, who attends Beasley Elementary School,  said he was so excited about sending toys he collected that he could hardly sleep Wednesday night.

"Yeah, I was tossing and turning all night," said Samuel, who lives in the Pill Hill neighborhood on the South Side. "It feels good, though, to know that these toys will help make Christmas that much better for someone I never met.

 2. Churches shift focus to 'Christmas Stores' as a more uplifting way to give

Here's a kind of consumerism that doesn't compete with the true meaning of the season. Churches and other charities are giving needy families the opportunity to "shop" at deeply discounted Christmas stores that they set up in house, giving them credit toward gifts for attending parenting classes or other enrichment opportunities.

"The residents in our neighborhood affected by poverty one way or the other don't want to be objects of charity," Sutter said. "They want to pick out what they want to give. They can always come up with a little cash. They feel they've gotten a good deal, and they're proud of themselves. They've been wise, and they've found things that their families and loved ones will like."

3. South Shore Drill Team takes national stage at inaugural parade

Although they were passed over four years ago, the South Shore Drill Team will perform at this January's inauguration, bringing a sense of excitement and accomplishment to its members.

“It is an honor,”15-year-old Raeven Funnye said after the announcement that the team would be among 24 groups chosen to participate in the historic event. “I feel privileged to be a part of it.”

4. Living Christmas 24 hours a day

An audio postcard of sorts from WBEZ with a Christmas tree salesman who lives and breathes the holidays every December.

"I think I've become a part of a lot of people's Christmas traditions, which is pretty cool. It's a nice feeling. I even have a few customers who have been following me around for 13, 14 years. They won't come anywhere else to buy a tree unless it's from me."

5. Latoya Winters, the Graduate

And finally, a perfect tale to warm your heart on a cold winter's night. Latoya Winters' story is one of survival and hope, of overcoming the worst of what the city has to offer and helping others do the same. Like many, she was raised by her grandmother and her mother was on drugs. When she was 8 years old, a fire started in her house, killing some of her siblings. She’s now a youth worker at Marillac House, helping kids who also have had a troubled childhood.

"I wanna help people where I've come from because they think, oh, this is not possible, college is really not gonna happen. That's why I tell them my story. I know some parts of it is sad, but then I say, guess what? I just graduated from college."

 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Feet Warming

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