The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented and turbulent times for all of us. It’s easy to feel scared and helpless in the face of an endless barrage of news. But in times like this, I am reminded of a quote from Mr. Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see something scary in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
In this time of great uncertainty, we encourage you to look for ways support the helpers who are working to keep the members of our community healthy and safe.
At the Thierer Family Foundation, we have been connecting with our grantees to understand how they are faring and to work through any immediate technology needs that have arisen as a result of COVID-19. Through these conversations, we’ve learned of additional needs at each organization and wanted to share those with others who may be looking for ways to help these amazing organizations.
Below you will find information on a few of our grantees who are still hard at work during this pandemic, about how COVID-19 has affected their organization and the people they serve, and how you can best help them continue their work.
Check back on our blog over the next few weeks to learn about more incredible organizations and how you can help.
One of Chicago’s largest and longest-operating food pantries, Lakeview Pantry’s mission is to eliminate hunger and poverty in the community by providing food to fill the basic need of hungry people; empowering clients to gain independence through innovative social service programs; and raising awareness of hunger and poverty and working towards solutions to eliminate them.
Lakeview Pantry has seen a 40 percent increase in clients within the first three weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, which translates to serving almost 2,000 people a week. With unemployment filings over 100,000 and over 100 pantries in Chicago closed, the demand will continue to climb as more Chicagoans turn to Lakeview Pantry looking for food assistance and other supportive services.
Lakeview Pantry is working hard to ensure that people in need get food to feed themselves and their families. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakeview Pantry’s food distribution and mental wellness services are open to anyone in the city, from any neighborhood.
In order to keep clients, staff, and volunteers safe, Lakeview Pantry has instituted a modified distribution model and has increased the capacity of clients that can be served via their Online Market. The Online Market allows clients to pre-order the food they need and leverage curb-side pickup to limit the transmission of the virus and keep the community safe.
Lakeview Pantry is offering case management, mental wellness sessions and career empowerment services via phone call, video call, and email. Additionally, they are working tirelessly to add more services including more grocery and meal delivery options to seniors and others at risk populations sheltering in place.
MONETARY DONATIONS: All donations made in the next three weeks up to $25,000 will be matched by a member of our board! For every $1 you donate, Lakeview Pantry can provide eight meals. Please visit lakeviewpantry.org/donate to donate.
IN-KIND DONATIONS: Help Lakeview Pantry stock its shelves with their most-needed items:
Check out lakeviewpantry.org/ways-to-help/donate-foods-goods-or-services/ to learn more.
VOLUNTEER: Help Lakeview Pantry feed their neighbors by volunteering for an upcoming shift. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all volunteer orientations beginning on March 15, 2020 will be virtual. Email email@example.com or visit lakeviewpantry.org/volunteer for more information.
Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless and low-income situations, with the essentials they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play. They supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.
In order to keep everyone safe and healthy, Cradles to Crayons Chicago has ceased volunteer shifts in their warehouse and, as of Wednesday 3/18, all staff are working from home. In the days just preceding the temporary closure, Cradles to Crayons provided their partners with bulk supplies of their most needed items, including diapers, wipes, hygiene supplies, and school and art supplies, among other things, serving over 4000 children in those two days.
While they typically provide customized “KidPacks” for each child they serve, they realized in the current circumstances, they cannot rely on the gently used product they usually collect because of safety concerns and lack of volunteer power. They are currently focused on providing a targeted group of new items that their partners desperately need through the C2C Emergency Essentials Fund. Through this fund, they are raising funds to procure large quantities of diapers, wipes and hygiene items that they can provide to partners who are still serving families.
MONETARY DONATIONS: For those who want to help get diapers, wipes, hygiene supplies and other essentials into the hands of kids who need them, please consider donating to the C2C Emergency Essentials Fund at cradlestocrayons.org/chicago/covid-19-emergency-fund/.
The Windy City Harvest program is the Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture education and job training program. Windy City Harvest manages a network of 14 urban farms, delivering locally grown food to the community, promoting healthy lifestyles, and actively recruiting residents into youth and workforce development training.
In the face of COVID-19, the Farm on Ogden is currently closed to the public, while a team of 15 Windy City Harvest staff are keeping production at farm sites as normal as possible. Staff have stopped growing niche crops for restaurants and are focusing on produce that will meet community needs, the utmost priority at this time.
The Apprenticeship program was quickly transformed from in-person to web-based training, which included working to ensure that all participants have the technology necessary to attend class.
Staff are working to implement a modified VeggieRx produce prescription program that will serve an estimated 70 individuals/families a week affiliated with Lawndale Christian Health Center. The remainder of produce is being donated to Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Pilsen Wellness Center food pantries affiliated with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and to an incubator business at the Hatchery that is preparing meal kits for service workers. Recognizing that locally grown produce is essential in communities where food access is already severely limited, Windy City Harvest is working to maintain production as close to normal as possible.
MONETARY DONATIONS: Financial support for operations, necessary in light of sharply reduced earned revenue, will be critical during COVID-19. To donate to the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Windy City Harvest Program, visit chicagobotanic.org/donate or email Karen Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAPTOP COMPUTERS: The Science Career Continuum delivers environmental science enrichment, mentorship, and authentic research opportunities to underserved CPS students. Science First and College First target youth from low-income families where they will be the first to attend college and consider STEM careers. In order to engage 60 Chicago Public School students (grades 6-12) in the Garden’s Science Career Continuum online this summer, the garden is looking to raise funds or obtain donated laptop computers to support them. To donate funds or laptops to help this program, email Karen Rosen at email@example.com.