Though Illinois residents are currently under a stay-at-home order as the state works to limit the spread of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has asked healthy citizens to volunteer in their communities.
"Millions of Illinoisans rely on the kindness of others each and every day," according to an online statement on the State of Illinois website. "That shouldn’t change just because you’ve been asked to stay home. It just takes a little creativity."
According to the COVID-19 Response page on the Illinois government’s service website, here are the ways you can help out.
Donate Blood - The American Red Cross said there is a major blood shortage in the country. Coronavirus concerns have led to over 5,000 blood drives being canceled across the nation, the organization said. Donated blood is critical for patients who need surgery, suffer severe injuries or are fighting cancer.
According to the COVID-19 Response page, extra precautions, such as health screenings and sanitation measures, have been taken to ensure the safety of those donating blood.
To find out where you can donate in your community, go to this website and type in your zip code.
Food Banks - The Feeding Illinois Network and other food banks and pantries are looking for volunteers to either donate money or help out in their facilities across the state.
If you’d like to make a financial contribution, visit the website of your local food bank (listed on the COVID-19 Response page) and click the donate button.
You can also help out by volunteering to repack food into family-sized portions, load trucks and deliver meals. To ensure the health of their helpers, food banks and pantries are sanitizing their facilities and limiting volunteer groups to 10 people or fewer.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository recommended that volunteers are between the ages of 18 and 60.
Helping the Elderly - Though people of all ages are susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19, it’s the country’s elderly that are most at risk. As a result, they are the most isolated from society.
Area Agencies on Aging and other organizations that aid the elderly are asking for volunteers to deliver food and medical prescriptions as well as participate in telephone reassurance programs that provide the aging population with company as they practice social distancing.
To help, find your local Area Agency on Aging or call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.
For those who would like to help from home, the COVID-19 Response page suggested donating to a local service organization, completing the census and checking in on neighbors via call or text.
Click here for the full list of volunteer options and organizations in need.
Contributing article from our colleagues at NBC Sports Chicago.