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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

As Life Gets Back To ‘Normal’ For Some, Wicker Park Mutual Aid Groups See Drop In Donations, Volunteers

Attention has shifted away from the economic impact of COVID-19, but people are still in need, mutual aid groups said. Diapers, toiletries and other items are still needed.

A cyclist rides along Milwaukee Avenue at the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues in Wicker Park on June 3, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — Residents still have a great need for basic supplies and resources even as the world reopens, a volunteer with the Wicker Park-Bucktown Mutual Aid effort said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused and exacerbated hardship for many people. But though many people are still struggling, the reopening of the world has meant many are no longer as focused on mutual aid as they were at the start of the crisis, a volunteer said.

“How people are maybe viewing mutual aid is in many ways connected to how a lot of us are viewing the pandemic, which is like, ‘We’re good now, right?’ And we’re not,” said Nikki DelZenero, a Noble Square resident and volunteer with the group.

“A lot of our families and our neighbors that we’ve been helping are going through the same hardship and the same food insecurity or the same concerns that they had a year ago.” 

In 2020, community mutual aid groups sprung up across the city to support residents with food, household supplies, rent relief and more.

But in recent months, interest and attention from prospective volunteers and donors has petered off, especially as the city reopened, DelZenero said.

“It makes sense. I also want to have a fun, vaccinated summer. I can understand the feeling of not wanting to spend your Saturday driving around in traffic in the heat,” she said. “We’ve definitely seen a pullback on volunteership, and there’s like a handful of active members at the moment. And all the mutual aid groups are seeing that.” 

The group is still regularly distributing food and supplies to about 30 to 35 families, DelZenero said.

“I personally am always thinking about other ways that we can help and facilitate greater connection with our neighbors and, you know, hear their needs. But the reality is that with just a handful of people, right now, our focus is to maintain the program that we have going,” DelZenero said. 

Earlier this year, the mutual aid group launched a once-monthly pop-up pantry to give away food and meet potential volunteers. The next one is noon-3 p.m. Sept. 12 on the southwest side of Wicker Park near Schiller Street and Damen Avenue.

Here’s how else you can donate and get involved: 

Donate

Wicker Park Bucktown Mutual Aid is accepting donations at The Wormhole 2 coffee shop, 1956 N. Western Ave.

Drop-off hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Items you can donate:

  • Cleaning/household supplies
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Toiletries
  • Hygiene products
  • Pull-tab canned goods 
  • Starchy foods

The group also accepts monetary contributions.

Volunteer

To volunteer with Wicker Park-Bucktown Mutual Aid, you sign up on its website or directly email wpbmutualaid@gmail.com

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