Ms. Gelinda Davis, a single mother of three who lives in Blue Island, is one of the countless mothers doing everything she can to stabilize her family as the pandemic drags on, and its financial and economic consequences show no sign of slowing. 

Gelinda lives with her three teenagers, as well as her 78-year-old grandma whose needs she tends to. Despite that being a full-time job in itself, she also works as an aide at Whittier Elementary and volunteers at their afterschool program. Her hands are full, and like every other Chicago-area family fighting to keep their heads above water, she is feeling the pressure. 

Uniting for the Holidays, a series of drive-through distribution events held by United Way of Metro Chicago over the last couple months, lifted Davis’s spirits and provided relief. She visited the event in Blue Island-Robbins. Other events were hosted in West Chicago, Elgin, Palatine and Chicago Heights. 

In total, more than 3,000 families from across the suburban region, including Gelinda’s, received holiday meals, gifts, resources from United Way partners and more. 

At the event in Blue Island-Robbins, dozens of friendly volunteers and a notably warm and festive atmosphere greeted Gelinda and 499 other families in mid-December. In addition to food, Gelinda took home an Under Armour backpack and a PPE mask kit to her kids. 

“So many families, like mine, are having a hard time due to the virus,” Gelinda said. “Even if we didn’t realize it, so many families needed not only the donations, but a pick-me-up and get together.” 

“I just want to say thank you,” Gelinda added. “So many families needed this.” 

Thank you to all of the donors, volunteers and sponsors who supported Uniting for the Holidays this year! Your gift brought food and holiday joy to our neighbors when they needed it most. 


Story by Tate Samata, AmeriCorps Multimedia Journalist