A lot has happened in the last few weeks.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, schools and businesses have closed. Workers have lost their jobs. Nonprofits and health care providers have been inundated with requests for help.
But through this unprecedented struggle, our neighbors — from West Chicago to Elgin to the South Shore — have united around a common goal: to take care of each other.
In just three week’s time, more than 2,700 donors – including individuals, families, businesses and foundations – have pledged $21 million (and counting!) for the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. The Fund was launched by United Way of Metro Chicago and The Chicago Community Trust, in partnership with the City of Chicago, to direct immediate financial assistance to nonprofits and community organizations on the front lines of this crisis.
In addition to businesses and philanthropic leaders in the region, Chicago sports teams, including the Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears, have teamed up to support the Fund. Punk band Fall Out Boy contributed, too.
Many donors have taken a creative approach to fundraising. Local stores such as Rotofugi and Lori’s Shoes are donating proceeds of their online sales. One Chicago family pooled their donations in honor of their grandmother’s birthday. And Danny Frank, a resident of the West Loop, shaved his beard for the first time in 25 years after his GoFundMe raised $2,000.
Overall, the Fund has also provided a resource for community members looking to make a difference. “Thank you for setting this up and making it easy to help those who need it most during this unprecedented crisis. Be safe. Be well,” wrote to Chicago donors in a note.
With all of these generous contributions, more than 140 nonprofits and community organizations to date have received grants. They’re using them to keep their doors open and to help their neighbors put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and pay their bills.
JOURNEYS | The Road Home is distributing food and placing houseless individuals and families from suburban Cook County in hotels where they can safely social distance.
In Englewood, R.A.G.E. is delivering groceries to seniors, who are especially vulnerable to the virus. The Puerto Rican Agenda is also delivering hot lunches every day of the week to elders, people with disabilities and Puerto Rican climate refugees in Humboldt Park.
Cradles to Crayons, which operates in locations across Chicago, distributed diapers, wipes and other hygiene items to more than 900 families and purchased a trove of additional supplies to help more families hit hardest by the crisis in the coming months.
Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp. (GAGDC), a United Way Neighborhood Network partner, set up a resource line for residents to call for services, is offering rental and mortgage assistance to families, will do wellness checks on neighbors and is distributing food to those in need, among other actions.
“Data shows Auburn Gresham has the second-highest number of deaths to COVID-19 in the city. We appreciate the generous support more than ever,” wrote GAGDC. “It’ll help us continue to deliver aid to Chicago communities, in a united and hopeful way.”
Through this work, our neighbors, community organizations and corporate partners have again reminded us of what’s possible when we unite. Together, we can and will ensure our neighbors and neighborhoods remain strong and supported.