Volunteers decorate 250 homes on South Side to drive out violence with light

A group is pushing to drive violence out of the South Side using Christmas lights. They have finished decorating more than 250 homes along Martin Luther King Drive.

Jonathan Watkins and his dad were pretty excited when volunteers showed up in the 5200 block of King Drive Saturday afternoon. Hanging a wreath was something 6-year-old Jonathan never before got to do.

“When you decorate, it makes people feel happy,” said Jonathan Watkins.

It’s a happy sight outside the Watkins’ home, and down the block as well.

“And press isn’t always that great. It’s great seeing the community coming out, being engaged,” said David Watkins.

Volunteers joined "My Block, My Hood, My City" fanning out across Englewood and Washington Park with ribbons, bows, lights and a joyful spirit.

“And to see that and like decorate Christmas lights with these kids is like really heartwarming, a really sweet and fun thing to do,” said volunteer Andrew Mueller.

They left their mark at Washington Park, too, spreading hope and Christmas cheer in a place where that may otherwise fall short.

“The money, we don’t have enough to put up decorations or to go out and get decorations,” said Rondale Jones, a volunteer who also lives in the area where they’re decorating.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked Chicagoans this holiday season to think of those who may be in need.

“One of the most important things we can do for each other is to be good neighbors,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

CPS students were just doing their part, even on a chilly day.

“It was cold today and yesterday,” said 6th grader Aureeyay Morris.

Student volunteers put up decorations at the park and at storefronts along 55th Street.

“You’ll see it...at the Green Line, you’ll see it across the street at Peaches Currency Exchange,” said Jones.

“The people walking off the train station enjoyed it and it just brightened up the neighborhood,” said volunteer Evie Backstrom.

The group will be out again Sunday, and volunteers can just show up. They’ll be at Palmer Park on 110th Street at noon.