Turkey giveaway offers holiday meal for Chicago families

Darren Roca, owner and founder of Urbane Blades, hands Flor Ramos a turkey for a holiday turkey giveaway Sunday. About 100 families registered to receive turkeys Sunday. | Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

About 100 Chicago families received a turkey in Sunday’s giveaway, a result of a partnership between Lyft, ChiGivesBack, Project H.O.O.D. and Urbane Blades. Other organizations plan additional events this week. Flor Ramos rolled down the window of her car and welcomed a large turkey put on the front seat. Delivering the turkey was Darren Roca, founder and owner of Urbane Blades, a barbershop on the Near North Side neighboring Cabrini-Green.
Ramos, 30, of Hermosa, was one of about 100 Chicago families who received a turkey in Sunday’s giveaway, a result of a partnership between Lyft, ChiGivesBack, Project H.O.O.D. and Urbane Blades. Vehicles drove up to the corner outside the barbershop, at 948 N. Orleans St., to receive their ready-to-cook turkeys for the holidays.
Currently unemployed, Ramos said receiving a turkey allows her to still provide for her family, even when money is tight. She plans to cook a nice meal for her dad, sister and cousins to celebrate either Christmas or New Year’s.
“To feel a sense of normal and not have to cut back on a meal, at least, is amazing,” Ramos said.

Clare Proctor/Sun-Times
Organizers loaded turkeys into people’s cars at the holiday turkey giveaway Sunday at Urbane Blades on the Near North Side.

The event was a part of the broader LyftUp initiative, providing rides to people who need transportation to get to work or attend job interviews, said Lamar Brown, a community strategist for Lyft. On Sunday, people who didn’t have a ride to pick up a turkey could use a Lyft code for free or reduced rides to and from the barbershop.
About a half hour into the giveaway, about 10 people had taken advantage of the offer, said Kouri Marshall, co-founder of ChiGivesBack.
Any family members receiving a turkey could get 50% off any service at the barbershop, Roca, the owner, said. It’s a way of saying thank you to community members who have supported the business during the coronavirus pandemic.
The turkey giveaway expresses Roca’s desire to give back to the community, “even in the most minor way,” he said.
With the pandemic forcing many people into challenging situations, providing Chicago residents with turkeys offers a sense of normalcy, Marshall said.
“I would say that 2020 has been a dark year for so many people, especially people at the bottom of the totem pole,” Marshall said. “This is a signal that there’s light at the end of the dark tunnel.”
Other local holiday giveaways this week include:

A food giveaway Monday at noon at St. Sabina Church in Gresham, 1210 W. 78th Place;
A toy giveaway and holiday drive-thru experience Monday from 2-4 p.m. at XS Tennis in Washington Park, 5336 S. State St.;
A food and household goods giveaway Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Faith Apostolic Church in Bronzeville, 3843 S. Indiana Ave., as well as a toy and coat giveaway Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church.

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