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Last week, hundreds of Chicagoans lined up for a free gas giveaway hosted by local businessman, Dr. Willie Wilson. Each car would get up to $50 in fuel at select gas stations located throughout the city.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has spurred international inflation, also causing a significant rise in gas prices. Some cities across the nation have seen their prices soar to over $6 a gallon.
To help alleviate the pain at the pump, Dr. Wilson partnered with five gas stations citywide, donating a maximum of $200,000 for the free fill-ups.
Dr. Willie Wilson is a self-made millionaire and politician. Born to sharecroppers in Louisiana, Wilson’s highest level of education was the seventh grade. He left home at the age of 13 and got his first job working in the cotton and sugar cane fields making 20 cents an hour.
Who is Dr. Willie Wilson?
Eventually he was hired at McDonald’s to mop floors and flip burgers. He worked his way up the chain to become manager and then received a loan to open his own franchise. This was the start of his business career.
Dr. Willie Wilson currently owns and operates a chain of McDonald’s restaurants and also founded and chairs Omar Medical Supplies. Additionally, he produces a nationally syndicated gospel music program called Singsation.
He unsuccessfully ran for several political seats, including mayor of Chicago (twice), Illinois state governor, United States senator and president. Wilson has earned several honorary degrees.
Also, Dr. Wilson is no stranger to charity. He donated $50,000 to first responders who lost pay due to failing to report their status or receive the Covid-19 vaccine. He handed out cash money to church goers, donated one million dollars to survivors of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans and assisted Chicagoans with property tax payments.
Dr. Wilson faces criticism
While some praised Dr. Willie Wilson for his charity, others were critical of the rollout, citing chaos and disorganization.
People were frustrated with massive traffic jams that congested main and residential streets and expressways.
Lines of cars stretched for two to three miles at some of the gas stations causing people to be late for work and emergency service vehicles to reroute. There were questions as to why gift cards weren’t used as a method to streamline the effort and some city leaders spoke on partnering with the millionaire to make future events more organized.