The Crusader Newspaper Group

Cars form long lines at Alderman Beale’s free face mask giveaway

Crusader Staff Report

The line of cars stretched nearly eight blocks. As police directed traffic, many waited in their cars for an important item that’s helping keep thousands healthy and saving lives.

For three hours on Sunday, April 26, residents in the Pullman neighborhood were given free face masks during a packed drive thru giveaway in the parking lot of the Pullman Community Center.

The giveaway was hosted by Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward), who along with other volunteers wore face masks during the event at the community center, located at 10355 South Woodlawn.

The giveaway was made possible with help from businessman Willie Wilson, State Representative Nicholas “Nick” Smith (34th District); members of City Sports and SSA71 Roseland Special Services.

During the event, residents stayed inside their cars while Beale and volunteers handed them a free gift bag that included a face mask and a newsletter inside. Cars with multiple passengers were given additional face masks.

With new guidelines that urged face masks to be worn outside and in stores, Beale held the event to encourage residents in his ward to stay healthy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to infect thousands of people in Chicago and around the world.

“The health and well-being of our residents are our top priority, and in the absence of a strong federal role we need to mobilize available city resources to provide protection and assistance to all Chicagoans who need it,” said Beale.

Meanwhile, Back to School Illinois, (B2SI), a Chicago-based nonprofit that keeps tens of thousands of deserving kids from low-income families motivated with free school supplies, announced its “Notes of Inspiration.”

The statewide program is designed to boost underserved students’ self-esteem by providing notes of encouragement in each Back 2 School kit to inspire and engage recipients.

Back 2 School Illinois is launching the initiative amidst the coronavirus epidemic, in an effort to engage Illinois residents in a positive, community-building activity that offers them a creative outlet while also encouraging underserved students to achieve, both inside and outside of the classroom.

To participate, visit and fill out the online Notes of Inspiration forms, which asks for contact information and the number of note cards site visitors would like to receive in the mail (ranging from 10-30).

After doing so, the online visitor will receive a package from Back 2 School Illinois within a week that includes: blank note cards, instructions, an outer mailing envelope (9” x 12”), inner return envelope, return mailing label and a donation envelope (for folks who want to make a donation).

Parents, community leaders, concern- ed citizens, students (16 years of age or older) or faculty members can participate in the Notes of Inspiration program. The goal is to make sure that every student who receives a kit will also receive the Notes of Inspiration in Back 2 School kits to further boost their self-esteem. “There are over 1.2 million students in Illinois living in low income households. Last year alone, B2SI provided more than 1 million school supplies to these students,” says Back 2 School Illinois CEO, Matthew Kurtzman, “The Notes of Inspiration program will provide students with notes of encouragement in their school supply kits, alongside the supplies they need, so that they can come to school motivated and prepared.”

Back 2 School Illinois encourages participants to be as creative as possible when writing the notes, and to also try to personalize them for the students.

“We suggest that you sign or print your first name at the bottom of the note, and to be as colorful as you want with the note. Use stickers, crayons or markers, if the spirit moves you. Your notes can be as simple or complex as you wish,” said Back 2 School Illinois CEO, Matthew Kurtzman. “Once your notes are written, place them in the return envelope that we’ve provided, and send them back to us, at your convenience.”

Participants who would like to help out even more should consider making a donation using the enclosed envelope or by donating online at

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