Boy, 9, and aunt spend Christmas Eve cooking for South Loop homeless

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A young boy and his aunt are making Chicago proud, spending their Christmas Eve cooking for and delivering food to the city's homeless to ensure they also have a merry Christmas.

Brenda Taylor's kitchen in Skokie is a one-woman workshop.

"I'm cooking greens," she told ABC7. "Right now I'm cutting up candied yams."

Taylor is kind of a self-appointed chef Santa. She loves cooking and considers it a hobby. But not a morsel of what she made Tuesday night was for her, or her family.

"They homeless," she said. "They don't have anyone and I'm loving, caring person."

She's not wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, and her 9-year-old nephew isn't waiting up for Santa. The whole hot buffet they prepared was actually his idea.

"If I was a homeless person I would want someone to come out and feed me," Markel Beck said.

So they're pouring their Christmas spirit into the kind of food Taylor's mom taught her warms the soul. It will take them most of the night to complete, but when Brenda and Markel are done cooking their multi-course meal they'll bring it, still hot, to the homeless tent city in the South Loop. Taylor picked the spot with good reason.

"I grew up over there," she said. "It hurts me to see them out there. It's cold. One year it was so cold, I'm like, 'Oh my god, I hope they wake up the next morning.'"

"They probably been starving and all that. Cold, starving, thirsty and all that," Markel said. "It just makes me feel good to know we're doing something for them."

It's a lesson his Aunt Brenda taught him: that Christmas isn't just one day.

"It's not about you," Taylor said. "You gotta put some in to get something out, right?"
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.