Chicagoland West – Meets Community Needs During COVID

Assistance League Chicagoland West volunteers provided personal care items, activity packets and school supplies to support struggling families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answering the question “What can we do to help?”, volunteers worked closely with agencies and schools throughout the area, identifying needs that could not be met through regular support channels. The results? Food pantry clients received needed personal care items. Children from families forced into temporary housing received activity packets to encourage independent play while their parents were working. And dwindling school supplies were replenished for students preparing to continue with summer school classes in their homes.

Assistance League volunteers purchased, packed and delivered 400 bags containing toiletry essentials such as shampoo, bodywash, deodorant, toothpaste and toilet paper to HCS Family Services. They were distributed through their food pantries in Hinsdale and Willowbrook Corner on June 10. “Personal care items are rarely donated, are unavailable for purchase through a pantry’s regular channels, and are not allowed to be purchased through SNAP,” said Assistance League member Monica Heidkamp. “I’m glad we were able to fulfill this important need.”

The shelter-in-place order created a crisis for families with no place to go. Scrambling to address the need, Catholic Charities found temporary accommodations for families in hotel rooms and sparsely furnished apartments. With tight spaces, minimal furnishings, and no school to physically attend, parents were asking for help to keep children occupied. Assistance League responded with 20 Children’s Activity Kits containing age-appropriate books, puzzles, games, and arts & crafts supplies. We are thrilled to be helping families in our community during this pandemic. Heidkamp observes, “It has been difficult for many of our local families with the loss of jobs, educating their children and staying healthy. It has been both humbling and rewarding to help in this small way.”

Remote learning for summer school presented a special challenge for the families at Anne M. Jeans School in Willowbrook. Assistance League stepped in to help students replenish their dwindling school supplies, so they had what they needed in their homes to do their schoolwork. 96 packets containing paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, folders, and drawing pads were distributed during the June 3 food pantry pick up at the school.

“We wanted to find meaningful ways to help our fellow community members struggling during these difficult times,” said Mary Kay Shukis, Vice President of Philanthropic Programs. “We were happy to be able to help and, if new needs arise, we are ready to respond.”