HUMBOLDT PARK — West Side Mutual Aid is collecting donations of food, household items and toiletries to give to residents in need.
The mutual aid group is partnering with youth-led organization Chicago Communities United, which is working to improve census participation in hard-to-count areas that are often predominantly Black and Latino.
The groups are collecting donations 3-5 p.m. Thursday at the boathouse in Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Humboldt Blvd., but you can continue to contribute with online monetary donations after that. The group is also accepting donations through Cashapp via the handle $CCULUZ
“Everything is running scarce now, and people have been laid off of their jobs,” said Avery Sims, Chicago Communities United organizer.
The supplies will be given out over several days, with the first running 3-5 p.m. Friday at the boathouse. More giveaways are planned for the fall in other West Side neighborhoods, including Austin and Garfield Park.
Giving out the supplies will provide organizers a way to help hard-hit communities while encouraging residents to complete the census. The free food and supplies will be able to help families in the short term, while filling out the census will help them begin to address the cause of why many West Side families lack economic opportunity, organizers said.
It is crucial for residents to participate in the census because the count is used to allocate federal funding, resources and political representation. The census count helps determine how much money the federal government provides to help schools, maintain streets and more.
“The need for mutual aid efforts like this are so strong because the government has consistently divested from social services,” said Destiny Harris, an organizer with West Side Mutual Aid. “We all know at the end of the day we keep us safe … but doing the census could bring more funding to our communities.”
The group plans to have electronic devices available so residents can fill out the census as they are picking up their essentials.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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