On the Record with Beck Garcia

DeKALB – Beck Garcia describes himself as “always having been passionate about helping others.”

This holiday season, Garcia is collecting items for a supply drive through the newly created organization, DeKalb Mutual Aid.

Garcia is DeKalb Mutual Aid’s executive director and has organized the drive and a free giveaway celebration event for the community.

DeKalb Mutual Aid is hosting the supply drive through Dec. 14. Items being collected include new and gently used clothing, books and toys. To schedule an item pickup, call 815-217-1645.

The donations will be distributed during an event to be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the University Village Community Room in the University Village Office Building, 722 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb. Items also can be dropped off the day of the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the event location.

The DeKalb County Health Department will be at the event from 3 to 8 p.m. with COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots, as well as medical insurance information about Marketplace for Medicaid and Medicare.

DeKalb County Regional Office of Education and Basics DeKalb County will donate books and DeKalb County Community Gardens will give away 50 pre-packed boxes containing a variety of fresh produce at the event.

DeKalb Mutual Aid is awaiting its 501c3 nonprofit status and can only accept items, not monetary donations at this time. Although the group has only three official members and about 10 volunteers, Garcia describes DeKalb Mutual Aid as “a group doing a lot with a small number of people.”

MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton spoke with Garcia about the organization and the upcoming event.

Milton: How did DeKalb Mutual Aid start?

Garcia: It started about a month ago. My friends and I started an organization centered around mutual aid, where we collect items people don’t want and give the items to people who do. … It’s a community grassroots organization. We saw a need and started a group. We hope to do even bigger things and host more events in the future. Our goal is to make the community more open, more accessible to everyone.

Milton: What is mutual aid?

Garcia: Mutual aid is an act of solidarity through a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services. … Examples of items we hope to give out include clothes, kids’ toys and cleaning and hygiene supplies.

Milton: What is the goal of the holiday supply drive?

Garcia: The holiday supply drive and the event will help make sure parents have something for their kids for the holidays. There will be a giveaway of items, an opportunity to see Santa, if that’s the holiday you celebrate. Other organizations will also be involved and have donated items as well, such as DeKalb County Community Gardens donating boxes of produce.

Milton: Are there any items that are still needed?

Garcia: We need mens’ clothing, toys, children’s clothes and baby boy clothes. We have a lot of women’s clothing and baby girl clothes. We just ask all donations be new or gently used. If you contact us before the event, we will come pick up your items. You can also donate items the morning of the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the event location.

Milton: What is the goal of DeKalb Mutual Aid?

Garcia: We’re trying to build equity within the community. DeKalb is pretty segregated when it comes to class. When there’s a need, there’s a big need. Our goal is to help bridge that gap to help those in need.

Milton: Why did you establish DeKalb Mutual Aid?

Garcia: It’s important for me to get involved in any way I can to make sure everyone’s needs are met. If there’s an injustice happening, I can’t sit back and let it happen. That’s why I formed DeKalb Mutual Aid.

For more information, call 815-217-1645.

Katrina Milton

Katrina J.E. Milton

Award-winning reporter and photographer for Shaw Media publications, including The Daily Chronicle and The MidWeek newspapers in DeKalb County, Illinois, since 2012.