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Giving Tuesday Now shines spotlight on need for nonprofits

5/4/2020, 10:14 p.m.
Forced isolation, people out of work and many businesses having to close their doors due to a failing economy all ...

Forced isolation, people out of work and many businesses having to close their doors due to a failing economy all adds up to a tough time for nonprofit organizations.

Just like for profit businesses, many non-profits are struggling during this coronavirus crisis. Getting people and organizations to donate when they are trying to keep their own businesses and families afloat is a tall order.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on the non-profit sector; and during times of need, it is largely the non-profit sector that so many turn to for support; we are the helping professionals,” Sarah Oprzedek, Vice President, Operations & Development for United Way of Will County, said.

“So when donations decline, when volunteers are no longer able to volunteer, it only diminishes our ability to help and serve those in need. And right now, the number of community members in need is growing exponentially each and every day.”

Non-profits - and there are a number of them in Will County - are the very organizations that can do the most to help people suffering during an economic downturn. Food pantries can provide the necessary sustenance necessary when the cupboards go bare and other non-profits can provide rental assistance to keep people in their homes or apartments when they are out of work.

Whether it be volunteering, donating food or clothing or helping out monetarily, there are myriad ways people can help others in need. Like the saying goes, there is no time like the present. While the annual Giving Tuesday is still scheduled for Dec. 1 of this year, Giving Tuesday Now, a response to the coronavirus pandemic, is May 5. The website now.giving.tuesday.org features more information about the added day of giving.

Organizers of the movement said they “believe that generosity has the power to unite and heal communities in good times and bad. A global threat like COVID-19 touches every person on the planet, and it presents an opportunity to come together as a global community.” That’s from an article on the site labeled “Mobilizing the World Through Giving.”

One doesn’t have to look for to find a way to help out in Joliet and the surrounding suburbs.

“The Salvation Army in Joliet, and throughout the country, is able to serve so many people because of the generosity of others,” said Jackie Rachev, director of communications for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in Chicago.

“Throughout the year, donations support the food pantry, emergency assistance for rent or utility assistance, after-school programming, camps, Christmas assistance and more. Donations during this Giving Tuesday event will be used to help the increased need in Joliet due to the coronavirus.”

The Salvation Army’s needs have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic. “We have seen approximately a 500 percent increase in request for support during this pandemic, which means we're helping more people than ever - people who were already living paycheck to paycheck and worrying where their next meal was coming from as well as people who have never asked for assistance,” Rachel added. This extra Giving Tuesday event means we can help those in need now, and in the future when the economic impact becomes more clear.”

The United Way of Will County and the Community Foundation of Will County responded to the pandemic by forming a partnership and create the Will County COVID-19 Response Fund, which to date has invested $350,067 into local Will County relief efforts, according to Oprzedek.

“This Giving Tuesday event highlights and calls attention to the vital role the non-profit

sector has on community well-being, and then follows up with a call to action to

join us in creating impact and changing lives,” Oprzedek said.

In addition to the monetary donations received, the two groups have also had many organizations contribute in-kind donations from food and meals, to gloves, masks, and sanitizer. “However, the success of our Will County COVID-19 Response Fund, and the success of similar funds across the country, cause major concern for the viability of on-going needs of the non-profit sector,” she added.

Donations made to the Will County COVID-19 Response Fund are used exclusively for community-based organizations responding to the needs of community members affected by coronavirus and its economic consequences. Here’s how the donations are being used:

  • Providing meals to families, kids, seniors and the homeless through curb-side pantries, home-deliveries, and shelf stable meal prep kits.
  • Providing a safe roof over head and basic needs for families, individuals, and victims of domestic violence. Through the fund, the two groups have successfully transitioned 14 families from homelessness to housing since the pandemic began.
  • Helping the sick and uninsured receive medical attention and providing the mechanism and opportunity to offer tele-health and mental health services for people of all ages and all abilities.
  • Providing emergency assistance for those impacted by job and wage loss.
  • Keeping frontline non-profit, helping professionals and first responders safe by providing necessary gloves, masks and sanitizer.

“Pre-pandemic we did, and post-pandemic we will do, exactly the same, but more, for our community by way of our Community Impact Fund,” Oprzedek said. “The CI fund provides a consistent and reliable source of income, year-round, for community-based partners to respond to the needs of Will County residents. Whether it’s providing safe opportunities for youth development out of school; hope and healing for victims of

abuse; hearing aids, dental services or prescription medication for the medically

vulnerable; or life skills education as a pathway to independence; United Way of

Will County is here for Will County families.”

To donate to the Will County COVID-19 Response Fund, visit

https://uwwill.org/will-county-covid-19-response-fund/

To donate to the United Way of Will County Community Impact Fund, visit https://uwwill.org/give/ways-to-give/

To donate to the Joliet Salvation Army, visit https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/metro/ways-to-give.