As prices at the gas pump reach record highs across the United States, many American families are being forced to cut back financially.
“I’m trying not to drive as much,” said Sandra Sanchez. “I just got to go to work and back, just trying to make it through.”
Sanchez says despite the negative impact rising fuel costs are having on her family, she still feels grateful as the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears the 1-month mark.
“I feel like we’re in a better situation than other countries right now,” said Sanchez. “If I’ve got to pay a little bit extra for gas, that’s still a blessing compared to what other people are going through.”
A Chicago-based businessman is trying to lighten the load people like Sanchez are facing.
“Some people in Russia were wealthy, people in Ukraine were wealthy,” said Willie Wilson. “Come the next day, they’re in the bread line. So here in America, this is Chicago and the suburbs. This is my town and these are my neighbors. So, if we’ve got some dollars to help out, then we’re going to do just that.”
Initially, Wilson donated $200,000 in free gas to motorists across Chicago last Friday (March 18), creating traffic gridlocks in several parts of the city with motorists parked on the street for hours ahead of the giveaway.
The 73-year-old claims that after witnessing the overwhelming demand for his first outing, he wanted to give away another $1 million in free gas Thursday (March 24).
“People struggle a lot, don’t have income,” said Wilson. “I get gas every day myself, it’s just a need. Whether people are poor and don’t have resources or are middle class, it still hurts your pockets, you know?”
Sanchez says she arrived too late to get free gas during Wilson’s first giveaway, so she woke up at 4:30 in the morning this time.
By 7 o’clock, her tank was full, with Wilson giving $50 in free fuel to every motorist in line at one of nearly 50 gas stations throughout the Chicago area until the grand total reached $1 million.
“Gas is too expensive, so this is a blessing for sure,” said Sanchez. “I’m just grateful.”
And she wasn’t alone.
“It feels great because money is tight especially when you have a family and you’ve got to move around,” said Jose Nieves, another free gas recipient. “I’m sure I’m not the only one, I’m sure there are many families that need this help. This is very much appreciated, I mean, I thank God for this.”
“Some need the gas and they appreciate it,” said Wilson. “We may have to do this again if gas prices go higher. So, let’s hope prices come down.”
(Production: Eric Cox)