Kanye West Donates to Chicago & LA Charities to Feed Children and the Elderly Amid Coronavirus
"Today when I got that call, that Kanye West wanted to help the elderly in Chicago and he chose his hometown in the Southside, his old neighborhood, I was beyond words," Josephine "Mother" Wade tells PEOPLE
On Thursday, West, 42, donated to the Dream Center in Los Angeles and We Women Empowered in his hometown of Chicago to help those in need. PEOPLE has learned the music mogul has given an undisclosed amount to each charity in efforts to provide meals to children, families and the elderly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
West’s contributions come at a pivotal time. There are now at least 12,392 confirmed cases of virus in the United States and 195 people have died from coronavirus-related illness in the nation — a whopping increase in the last 24 hours.
West Virginia reported its first case on Tuesday evening, officially confirming that the virus has spread to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Globally, there are at least 246,275 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 10,038 deaths have resulted from the illness. As of Thursday, Italy officially surpassed China in the number of deaths related to the virus, with 3,405 fatalities.
We Women Empowered, led by Josephine “Mother” Wade, is delivering three meals each day to assist the elderly of the Southside of Chicago, where West was raised. The organization has been working tirelessly to support those needing aid in the Chicago neighborhoods of Chatham, Woodlawn, Washington Park, South Shore, Grand Crossing, Englewood, Hyde Park, Grand Boulevard, Auburn Gresham and Avalon Park.
Wade tells PEOPLE just how meaningful West’s donation has been for the organization.
“I don’t know how to even put into words the miracle that happened today to change the course of the Southside of Chicago,” Wade said in an exclusive statement. “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.”
“Today when I got that call, that Kanye West wanted to help the elderly in Chicago and he chose his hometown in the Southside, his old neighborhood, I was beyond words,” Wade adds. “These people being given this gift, literally of life, are not going to believe that one of the world’s greatest young visionaries and this wise man stepped up to the plate and chose to help our work, bringing help and healing through my efforts as the ‘mother’ of this city. I was so excited today that I was weak trying to take in what has happened through Mr. West to feed these seniors. We have been on the battle field for a long time and it couldn’t get any better than it did today!”
Wade also revealed to PEOPLE that she knew West’s late mother, Donda, who died in 2007.
“He may not even realize it, but I knew his mother and I used to help them many years ago,” she said. “All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.”
West’s contribution to We Women Empowered “will help them continue to feed and help those in need and to expand the area and reach of their work.” Josephine’s Southern Cooking —formerly named Captain’s Hard Time Dining — will provide high-end wellness and food delivery service to seniors as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
The Dream Center in Los Angeles is currently feeding 7,000 meals each day, with an expected increase to beyond 9,000 meals soon. The organization reports that with the help of West’s donation, they will be able to provide “hundreds of thousands of meals during this time to children and elderly in need.”
For individuals in need of food, the center is providing meals everyday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PT. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a non-profit organization located in Echo Park, California. The center works to benefit underserved communities throughout LA by providing outreach programs to combat hunger, poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking.
West is among many musicians to give back amidst the health crisis. On Tuesday, Ciara and Russell Wilson announced that they will be donating one million meals to a local food bank to support relief efforts during the outbreak. Earlier this week, country star Dierks Bentley gave each of the 90 hourly employees that work at his Nashville bar $1,000 as the restaurant temporarily closed down in efforts to reduce the virus’ rapid spread, with Florida Georgia Line following his lead shortly thereafter.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.