CHICAGO, IL – Bridget Outlaw may not know first-hand what it is like to live in poverty, but based on the number of impoverished people she comes into contact with on a regular basis on Chicago’s South Side, she certainly can understand the need that exists among her neighbors.
As the Chief Executive Officer of Daughters of Destiny Outreach, Outlaw has witnessed the struggles that are prevalent among a growing percentage of Cook County residents, especially since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. And while the pandemic has led to the loss of employment and regular income, which in turn, has worsened issues of food insecurity and other socioeconomic difficulties, the demand for clothing among the poor has sometimes gone unnoticed.
Thanks to a $500,000 donation of clothing and household goods from Burlington stores, Daughters of Destiny will host a pop-up event on Saturday when clothing for men, women and children along with items like baby strollers and other household necessities will be given away to those who need it most.
The event will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Chicagoland Christian Center, located at 929 E. 103rd Street.
Burlington Stores, in conjunction with its not-for-profit partner, Delivering Good, made a $2.75 million donation to assist with pop-up events across the country. Six cities, including Chicago, were selected to participate in the effort. For Outlaw, whose organization is located in the West Lawndale neighborhood, but serves the entirety of Cook County, Burlington’s philanthropic efforts could not have come at a better time.
Burlington has 33 stores in the greater Chicago area and will add a Burbank location later this summer.
“To be honest, it’s life-changing,” Outlaw said on Friday. “You have hope and (people) have hope but sometimes in these communities, they have no hope.
“I see (Burlington’s effort) as a rescue mission of hope.”
Outlaw has seen local residents come to her organization in need of clothing. But at a time when there is so much demand for clothing and other goods, the coronavirus pandemic has also impacted bigger businesses and their ability to work with not-for-profits to help communities in need.
In recent months, she has watched as people have come to different faith-based and community groups seeking assistance only to be told that there is nothing that neighborhood agencies can do to help because of the impact felt due to the pandemic.
In addition to the pandemic, businesses and community assistance agencies in Chicago were also impacted by the protests that sometimes turned violent following the death of George Floyd, which further kept them from serving communities like they normally might.
But after receiving the shipment of goods from Burlington three weeks ago, Outlaw has looked forward to Saturday’s event. She understands the turnout will be great, but after being the recipient of Burlington’s generosity, Outlaw looks forward to being able to help as many people as possible over the six hours the pop-up store will be open while providing assistance to people who live in neighborhoods that are often under-served when it comes to retail shopping opportunities.
“When you look into the eyes of people in poverty, there’s no way you’re not touched by their plight,” Outlaw said. “You can’t look at these people and said, ‘I’m good’. You just can’t do that.
“We look at (the fact) that a lot of these people can’t help themselves. So this is like a rescue mission. It’s like the Cavalry is coming in in the old cowboy movies. That’s how I am seeing it.”