Mother Of Slain Child Launches Holiday Toy Drive In His Memory

Janari Ricks was shot and killed in Chicago's Near North neighborhood over the summer.

The mother of a young Chicago boy gunned down over the summer is launching a holiday toy drive in his memory.

Nine-year-old Janari Ricks was shot and killed just steps from his home in the Near North neighborhood in July.

Police arrested and charged a man with murder in August.

Jalisa Ford, Janari’s mother, says a community garden on Chicago Avenue in the neighborhood was dedicated to Ricks on Halloween. Ricks spent his free time in the garden since the age of 3, according to Ford. It served as his safety net.

“He just wanted to make every kid that was around feel special,” said Ford. “He had two dollars and would try to figure out how to split it with six of his friends.”

Raymond Ricks, his father, says the “1 JAR Foundation” is now collecting wrapped and unwrapped gifts through Dec. 14. The family plans to hold a toy drive every holiday season to carry out their son’s ultimate wish: helping others.

“He was like a little role model. He would wake up early in the morning and just knock on everyone’s door for the kids to come outside,” said Ricks.

Toys will be delivered to families before Christmas.

They can be dropped off at several locations:

  • 459 W. Division St.
  • 545 W. Division St.
  • 544 W. Oak St.
  • 1311 N. Halsted St.

For more information, contact Jalisa Ford at

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