Pictured here are members of the Chessman Club, with a truckload of food baskets ready for distribution on Dec. 23.

Every December for the last 50 years, The Chessman Club of the North Shore has given back to the less fortunate, and this year was no different. On Dec. 23, the Chessman gave out 400 food baskets at various social service and senior centers throughout Evanston, with Oakton Elementary School being a primary location. 

At Oakton School, 92 holiday food baskets were distributed with the help of School District 65 administrators, teachers and personnel. According to the District’s Fall Housing Report, 67 percent of the students attending the school are from low-income households. 

Keith Terry, a member of the Chessman Club and president of the District 65 School Board, told the RoundTable the club was formed more than 50 years ago. He said the Christmas Food Basket Program is an attempt to reach out to the community, to seniors and to those who are less fortunate. “That’s really what being a Chessman is. It’s being an advocate for the community,” he said.

The 17 members of the Chessman Club who are predominantly African American males. “It’s a group of guys all looking to roll up their sleeves and do what is good for the community,” said Mr. Terry. 

The mission of the club has remained the same: service to the youth and elderly of the community. The club raises funds to award scholarships to youth, to purchase food for its Christmas food basket program, and to support community youth activities, such as the Fellowship of Afro-American Men youth basketball league.