CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new COVID-19 relief center opened up Monday on Chicago's South Side. It's named after Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy who was murdered in 2015.
Volunteers handed out bags of groceries filled with essentials as another handed out PPE, including masks and gloves. They plan to do this twice a week for anyone in the community who needs assistance.
The facility is filled with pictures of the 9-year-old who loved basketball. He was murdered on Nov. 2, 2015, after two gang members lured him into an alley by playing basketball. One then shot him at point blank range.
"I'm grateful. This means a lot that she's still keeping his name alive, going with it," said Tyshawn's mother, Karla Lee.
The shocking crime inspired Aleta Clark to start the group "Hugs not Slugs," and to open several of these safe houses in the community.
"It just really bothered me. And I didn't want to be one of those people who complain about violence in Chicago without trying to make it better," Clark said.
Tyshawn's mother cut the ribbon to officially open the facility Monday. His family then released 9 doves in honor of the 9-year-old boy.
Tyshawn's great grandmother Deborah Blakely did much of the work with contractors to open the facility and will serve as manager.
Dozens of pictures of the smiling boy decorate the walls. His family hopes to create a new image for people when they remember Tyshawn.
"Now when we come to celebrate his birth or his death, we have somewhere to go besides in the alley. It's great," said Deborah Blakely, great grandmother.
It's called a COVID-19 relief center, but the founder plans to be there permanently offering support for the community, long after COVID-19 has hopefully gone away.
Tyshawn Lee Safe House opens in Englewood on 5-year anniversary of boy's murder