“He has truly been our modern-day Santa Claus,” a Chicago alderman said of the rapper.
Kanye West has been lauded as a “hometown hero” after his recent donation to a Chicago toy drive.
According to Stephanie Coleman, the area’s alderman, West, 44, gave the majority of the more than 4,000 items given away at a Sunday ceremony in the Englewood community.
“I’m so proud that Kanye is, once again, responding to our request to help the children of Englewood and beyond,” Coleman said, per ABC7. “He is no stranger to our community. His presence has always been felt in our neighborhoods and he loves visiting, but this Christmas he has truly been our modern-day Santa Claus.”
“He is our hometown hero, and we want to thank him for understanding that children in Englewood, and on the South Side and in Chicago in general, some will be without this holiday,” she added at the event, WGN reported. “Some are without their fathers due to gun violence, due to mass incarceration, so today, we are here being a blessing.”
West did not attend the event, which is said to include food, games, and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus, and is organized by a number of local companies and groups.
“It isn’t about just Christmas, but it’s a day about unity,” Coleman told the Chicago Sun-Times. “And without unity, there is no community.”
Joseph Williams, who lives in Englewood, attended the toy drive and told the outlet that it was “amazing to see so many organizations come together to bless the Englewood community.”
“So many families can benefit from something like this,” said Williams.
West has a long history of giving back to the communities of Chicago, where he grew up, and Los Angeles, where he now resides.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States in March 2020, the rapper gave an undisclosed sum to the Dream Center in Los Angeles and We Women Empowered in Chicago in order to offer meals to children, families, and the elderly who were affected by the initial epidemic.
“I don’t know how to even put into words the miracle that happened today to change the course of the Southside of Chicago,” Josephine “Mother” Wade, who leads We Women Empowered, said in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE at the time.
“I am beyond gratified to know that in all of the suffering we have seen this week, through the tireless work to feed the hurting, hungry and lonely — all of the sudden, out of the clear blue, we get a call from heaven that someone wants to help. And in one phone call, in an instance today, our world was changed,” she continued.