EDGEWATER — A fund that will help Far North Side residents deal with the coronavirus outbreak has garnered over $18,000 in donations in just five days.
The Andersonville, Edgewater and Uptown community response fund was created by Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) and other community leaders as a way to help residents and organizations needing a hand through the outbreak. Most of the funds raised will go to Care For Real, the Edgewater-based charity that runs a food pantry and other services for in-need area residents.
The coronavirus outbreak has severely impacted life in Chicago, with the city under a stay-at-home order as cases in the state continue to escalate. Measures to lessen the outbreak have devastated local industries, laying off thousands of employees in the hospitality and entertainment businesses.
Care For Real is expecting a “tidal wave” of new clients seeking food and other services after being impacted by the outbreak, said Lyle Allen, executive director at the charity.
“Our team is working to ensure we are able to continue to provide the highest level of free programs and services for our neighbors in need,” Allen said. “But the potential number of folks turning to us for support will put a burden on our small budget.”
The community response fund was launched on Wednesday, and had already garnered over $18,000 in donations by Sunday afternoon.
Care For Real will use the funds it receives to keep its food pantry stocked. The charity, which serves an average of 5,000 clients a month, is also trying to provide clients with products like toilet paper — scarce items that are not covered by SNAP benefits, Allen said.
Some of the money raised by the community response fund will be earmarked for other community situations that arise from the virus outbreak, with a priority on protecting the area’s older residents, Osterman’s office said. An emphasis will be placed on buying items at local brick-and-mortar stores, some of which have lost business due to social distancing practices.
Over 500 Far North Side residents have volunteered for the 48th Ward’s community response team, Osterman said in an email to constituents. The volunteers will be charged with checking in with older residents and other duties related to the virus outbreak.
“This has been a difficult week, but I have seen so many instances of neighbors taking care of each other and building community, even at a distance,” Osterman said in an email to constituents.
With a likely dramatic uptick in people requiring aid, Care For Real has taken precautions to make sure it’s facilities are as safe as possible.
A new distribution plan at the pantry, 5339 N. Sheridan Rd., will mean clients can no longer “shop” for desired items. Instead, prepackaged bags including a week’s worth of groceries will be handed out. The organization is also suspending access to its clothing closet.
“The need to add new measures will increase our costs,” Allen said. “But we will be here to ensure our community has the food they need to be as healthy as possible.”
If you would like to sign up a Edgewater, Andersonville or Uptown-area resident for check-ins via phone or email, click here to fill out a request form.
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