Here Are Ways To Help The Chicago Region Grapple With COVID-19 Groups offer Chicago-area residents ways to volunteer and to donate food, blood, hand sanitizers, toiletries, child care and pet assistance.
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NPR logo Here Are Ways To Help The Chicago Region Grapple With COVID-19

Here Are Ways To Help The Chicago Region Grapple With COVID-19

In this 2011 file photo, donors give blood at a drive in Rutland, Vt. On Sunday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker urged residents to donate blood amid the coronavirus outbreak. Toby Talbot/Associated Press hide caption

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Toby Talbot/Associated Press

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is calling on residents to not hoard food but also help others in need as the state grapples with social distancing amid COVID-19.

"Please do not hoard food. Buy what you need, but please be reasonable. Think of your friends and your neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people to not be selfish," Pritzker said during his daily press conference on Sunday.

The governor also encouraged healthy individuals, who are eligible, to donate blood and platelets with the American Red Cross as soon as possible.

"A blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer," Pritzker said."One of the most important things that you can do, to ensure that we don't have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus, is to give blood."

Donating blood is one of a number of ways people in the Chicago area can help as the region grapples with the spread of the coronavirus.

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The Greater Chicago Food Depository said it is in touch with state and city officials to coordinate a response to provide food for families affected by school closings. On Saturday, volunteers in its warehouse packed thousands of emergency food boxes in preparation.

"We know the economic impact of COVID-19 will dramatically increase the need for food assistance across our community. The Food Depository is actively preparing to meet this demand, but we need your help," the food bank said Sunday, in an email asking for donations.

The Food Depository buys food at cost so the money helps them more than food donations. To volunteer, go to https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/volunteer/ and check out the calendar for availability. To find the food pantry nearest you, visit https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/find-food/.

Mission of Our Lady of the Angels is also taking food donations. The mission provides food to about 1,000 families each month. The mission is asking individuals to call before dropping off food donations in person at its West Side location. People can also buy food for the mission's pantry on the Amazon wish list.

My Block My Hood My City has launched a campaign to receive and distribute donations of hand sanitizers, health supplements, toiletries, and food to Chicago's elderly. Individuals can offer donations and seniors can request assistance by visiting the group's website.

On Monday, United Way of Metro Chicago, Chicago Community Trust and the City of Chicago are launching a Chicago COVID Response Fund.

It's not just big institutions stepping up to help. Chicago-based activist Kelly Hayes created a "Chicago COVID-19 Mutual Aid Volunteer Sign-up" google document. She is sending names of people looking for volunteer opportunities to Chicago groups.

Brave Space Alliance, a South Side-based LGBTQ organization, has new online and mutual aid programming in response to COVID-19. It will have an online drop-in center to continue programming and a crisis pantry to deliver food and supplies. The food pantry will prioritize people who are sick, disabled, quarantined without pay, elderly, undocumented, black, brown or indigenous people. Anyone interested in volunteering can fill out this form.

This list is circulating with names of available childcare workers in Chicago. People who need pet assistance can get help from Rescue Chicago.

Artists and performers are struggling as shows are shut down. This independent group of artists has created a Chicago Artists Relief Fund to help those suffering from financial instability. Similarly, there is a Chicago Hospitality Employee Relief Guide with several links for individuals to contribute to employee funds and to purchase online gift cards.

Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ's Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.

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