Local woman's charity foundation works to lift up those in need

"I just love to help people even when I was younger. I always used to take lunches to the children in my classroom." said Sophia Whitehead. "So I guess it started when I was little."

And that spirit of wanting to make a difference still drives Sophia Whitehead who has her own organization - Arms Open With Love Foundation.

"There are so many people out there who live out there on the streets," she said. "You just never know how people got to the way that they are."

Her foundation organizes fundraisers like a pop-up shop selling popcorn at Kroger in Oak Park, so she can raise money to buy food, cook it and then serve it to those in need.

"I’m always donating because you never know I may need some help," said one woman.

The foundation does much more including using a van to get food to seniors.

"Also my 'Groceries on us' program where we deliver free groceries to our elderly community," Sophia said.

The foundation also has partners so it can increase its reach in the community, often offering people who live in shelters a grooming make-over.

"I was able to provide the residents that live in a shelter, with free haircuts, and women with hairstyles and free wigs," said Niesha Lee, beauty expert and parter with Arms Open With Love.

For Lee this work is personal

"I had my own personal walk with being homeless, and my mental health also badly affected," she said. "If God can place this on my heart to make someone else feel better, then why shouldn’t I share this beautiful gift that God gave me."

Sophia’s sister also helps the foundation help others.

"It makes me feel great as a person and I just love it," said Shirah Thornton, a volunteer.

The foundation is working to also raise money to start a housing program for homeless women and runaway teens. If you would like to support this mission use THIS LINK.

"It’s just a blessing to be able to see that she is out in the community touching lives," said Thornton.

It may sound like this initiative is all about giving back but organizers admit they benefit too.

"I wouldn’t trade this assignment for nothing just being a giver, is such a blessing and feels good," said Sophia.

To learn more about the Arms Open With Love foundation go here - or here.

To donate to the GoFundMe, go here.