Many local agencies have stop ped accepting non-cash donations and have closed their doors to youth volunteers. However, there are still many ways scouts (and their families) can continue to Do a Good Turn Daily while staying safe at home. Note: some opportunities are “good turns” but may not qualify for service hours. If you are looking for conservation service opportunities, please see below.
The Volunteer Center in Winnetka has a terrific summary of local organizations looking for assistance, and Operation Gratitude has a number of Virtual Volunteering opportunities listed on their site. We will continue to update the list below of service opportunities where Scout-power is welcomed and can be utilized with minimal exposure during the statewide stay-at-home orders. If you have other suggestions, please let us know!
Did you know that paracord bracelets not only look cool, but they can save the life of a serviceman? According to Operation Gratitude:
We include them in our Care Packages because they’re both functional and meaningful, as they are handmade by an American who wants to show their appreciation to our Troops and First Responders.
All who serve use paracord, which gets its name from parachute cord and can hold up to 550 lbs. of weight. The bracelet provides 7.5 feet of cord in an emergency. Paracord “Survival” Bracelets can be used to:
- Secure camouflage nets to trees or vehicles
- Build a makeshift shelter
- Extend a security strap or rope to reach and haul heavy objects
- Create a harness to extract an injured person from a bad location
- Make a sling or splint
Check out the Operation Gratitude website for paracord specifications (the paracord needs to be a certain gauge to be functional), assembly instructions, and mailing address. The folks at Operation Gratitude estimate that it takes about an hour to make five bracelets. And while you are at it, you can also participate in their letter-writing campaign or make some hand-made gifts that they will send to veterans, active duty military, and first responders.
Connections for the Homeless in Evanston is welcoming bag lunches and donations of money and food-related gift cards (Visa/MC, restaurants that are open in Evanston, supermarket). Please sign up for a slot when you feel comfortable and safe to do so; most spots in the next few weeks are already full, but there are many available in later weeks. While the “slots” have a designated time window, those are the open hours for drop-offs. When you sign up, please click on the MORE link to confirm the latest instructions. Below are the instructions as of April 19th:
- Purchase food for 20 lunch bags with your own money.
- Participants will not have access to utensils or a kitchen.
- Prepare lunches at work/home/school/etc.
- Lunches cannot be prepared at Connections.
- Lunches must include a sandwich, a drink, a snack and dessert.
- Sandwich should be with Turkey or Roast beef and/or cheese. Please avoid pork.
- Sandwiches must be made without condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, etc.) and without vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) and must be placed in a plastic bag.
- The drink can be water or juice. Snack can be a bag of chips and the dessert can be a cookie.
- All the lunch items should be in a brown bag. Please write the date of assembly on each bag.
- The date you sign up for lunches is the date you deliver them (if you sign up to make lunches on a Monday, you deliver on that same Monday)
- Deliver lunches to 2121 Dewey Avenue, Evanston, IL, 60201 between 8:30 AM – 3 PM on the day you sign up to make lunches.
Ms. Lin has extra sandwich ziplocs and paper lunchbags if you would like some – just let her know how many you need and she can leave out a box for you for contactless pickup in Glencoe.
When you drop off lunches, you will ring the doorbell at the Dewey Avenue location and volunteers will open the door to help you bring in your delivery and provide a receipt for a tax-deductible donation. If you prefer a contactless experience, you should be able to let them know you are leaving sandwiches via the intercom upon arrival. They are also in need of can openers, cereal, tuna (preferably zip-tops or pop-tops so they can be eaten on the go), as well as cash donations/Visa gift cards or gift cards for groceries and Evanston-based food establishments that are still providing service. These items can be dropped off along with sandwiches at the Dewey Avenue location and they can mail you a receipt or you can add it to the receipt provided at time of delivery.
Other Food Donations
Note: many local hospitals are accepting donated meals (and PPE), but the meals often must be individually wrapped and/or cannot be homemade; PPE must be medical grade. Please visit GiveInKind.com for a list of area facilities that are accepting meal donations, along with links to their respective donation guidelines.
Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory (Chicago)
Many Glencoe scouts have had an opportunity to volunteer with Cradles to Crayons via programs sponsored by District 35, Glencoe Junior High Project, local employers, or their families. Cradles to Crayons is welcoming well-wish notes to be included with back-to-school backpacks they distribute each fall. Instructions and guidelines for well-wish notes can be found here. Amy Meade, their Group Volunteer Coordinator wrote:
We’d love if the scout troop got involved with Cradles to Crayons during this pandemic. We call the cards well-wish notes, and these notes go in backpacks when we give students brand new backpacks with brand new school supplies in them. Once finished, feel free to send them to 4141 W. George St., Chicago, IL 60641.
Ms. Meade also asked families to continue setting aside items that might be of interest to the disadvantaged families in Chicago that they serve, and sent a set of guidelines for acceptable new and gently used items. She wrote:
In addition, we are hoping families can use this time at home to tackle their closets. According to the Council for Textile recycling, each of us throw away an average of 70 pounds of clothing every year. Your clothing can have another life helping a family in need. That favorite hat that doesn’t fit anymore? Your lucky pair of jeans that you grew out of? Share the luck with other kids and start your donation pile!
Make a family game plan. Take it one closet or one drawer at a time. Make sure all donated items are washed and folded nicely for the next family to enjoy. Everyone has a job to do! Play music, make it a game, or competition. Who can match their sox the fastest?
Hold on to your donations until a later date. We will be accepting as many clothes as we can get as soon as it is safe to start distributing again!
Thank you so much for your help! We truly appreciate your partnership.
Operation Gratitude is a nationwide service organization whose mission is to forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 300,000+ individually addressed Care Packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to First Responders, New Recruits, Veterans, Wounded Heroes, and their Care Givers. Through Collection Drives, Letter Writing Campaigns, Craft Projects, and Care Package Assembly Events, Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to say “Thank You” through active, hands-on volunteerism.
Right now, they are sponsoring several Virtual Volunteering projects including a letter-writing campaign and the paracord bracelet project (see above). They say:
We have an urgent need for letters specifically written to Deployed Troops, First Responders, and Emergency Medical Personnel on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please address all of your the letters and cards generically with “Dear Hero” and follow the guidelines for WRITING and SHIPPING provided here:
- Sort your letters by recipient type: Deployed Troop, Veteran, New Recruit, or Wounded Hero and Caregiver.
- Fill out our Donor Form below. Upon submission you will receive an email with shipping instructions.
COMPLETE DONATION FORM
- Put all loose artwork and letters/cards in a large envelope or box according to their recipient type. Please DO NOT put letters in individual envelopes; all letters must go through an internal screening process and the envelopes slow that process down significantly.
- Please use ATTN: Letter Writing Program – COVID-19 Response for letters specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and ATTN: Letter Writing Program – Virtual Volunteerism for all other letters.
- Ship your letters to:
ATTN: Letter Writing Program
9409 Owensmouth Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311
The Center for Enriched Living (various locations including Riverwoods)
The Center for Enriched Living is seeking “PanPals” to provide some human interaction with members who have limited communication with family and friends. Their website, which includes a list of residents to contact (first name and initial only), says:
Approximately half of all CEL members live in residential agencies. Many of these members have limited interaction with family members on a regular basis, and with the Coronavirus that has been compounded.
We want to continue to engage with our members even though our building is closed. To do so, we’re returning to the lost art of letter-writing. If you would like to participate, you can send a letter, picture, card to a member and let them know that you’re thinking of them during this time.
Simply address the envelope to the agency with the ATTN: to the member and/or house name (if listed).
The Center for Youth and Family Solutions runs a number of residential facilities in central and southern Illinois which serve boys between the ages of 6-18 who have experienced significant abuse and are exhibiting emotional, behavioral or mental health issues that require 24-hour services to be provided in a safe, supportive living environment. Their goal is to provide comprehensive intensive treatment services which will allow the youth to return to family, a relative family member, a community foster family home or independent living.
CYFS is recruiting “Guardian Angles” to record themselves reading children’s storybooks to put on their Vimeo channel. Readers can be teens and will not be identified in the video (unless the reader chooses to self-identify). They are looking for picture books (but not toddler board book level reading), joke books, Boys Life, National Geographic Kids, and other visually appealing material that might engage boys in the reading material.
You can see their request for assistance on the Heart of Illinois (Peoria-area) United Way site. Videos can be created in any format and will be edited by CYFS with titles and for optimal viewing size, etc. If you are interested, please contact Ms. Lin for more details on format and for the link to the troop Google Drive site where videos can be posted and shared.
Did you know that a single blood donation can save up to three lives? A pint donation can be separated into red cells, platelets, and plasma — each of which can be donated to patients with specific needs. Healthy donors are encouraged to book appointments – keeping to a schedule helps the collecting agency to ensure social distancing, and to sterilize between donors.
If you are aged 16 or older and have your parent’s permission, you are eligible to give blood. At the April Glencoe Village Board of Trustees meeting, Gabrielle Cummings, the president of Highland Park Hospital singled out blood donations as a critically needed contributions people can make (they have more than enough free meals, which they cannot share with the public, who are not allowed in as visitors). Ms. Cummings pointed out that blood donated via the University Health System Hospitals (including Evanston, Highland Park, Glenbrook, and Skokie) stays in our local community. The American Red Cross is also booking future appointments.
If you’ve never given blood before, you should allow 45-60 minutes for the full process: 10-15 minutes for an intake interview/prep, 10-20 minutes for the actual donation, and another 10-15 minutes to ensure you are recovered and safe to depart. The “prick” will feel like a blood draw, vaccine, or IV, and you may experience some mild discomfort during the donation process. First-time donors are encouraged to review the American Red Cross’s guide what to expect and how to prepare.
The Volunteer Center’s current volunteer list also includes several opportunities for people with drivers licenses. These include running errands for the elderly (via Good News Partners), making deliveries for Family Focus of Evanston, Meals on Wheels, and others.
Closer to home, Family Service of Glencoe reports that they do not have any open opportunities, but that they are “coordinating volunteers to do grocery shopping for seniors and other high risk individuals who are homebound. For now, we actually have more volunteers than calls for help but that could change.” Scouts and parents who are NextDoor members can also use their Help Map to help offer to run essential errands or check on neighbors in need.
Now that Glencoe has instituted a requirement to wear masks in shops, the need for home-made masks is even greater than ever. Scouts both locally and around the country have been making masks for personal use, to share with friends, family, and non-sewing neighbors, and (where requested and made to appropriate specifications) with medical and public safety personnel.
The Volunteer Center notes that Clearbrook (disability services) is accepting masks. UChicago Medicine is accepting home made masks, gowns, caps and booties and has guidelines and contact information on their website.
If you are looking for instructions, please check out:
- This YouTube guide
- A great resource page from Joann fabrics including several sets of “accepted healthcare” patterns and guidelines
- Indiana’s Deaconness Hospital, one of the first hospitals to request homemade masks, has created a great search tool on their website that allows you to search for local organizations seeking homemade PPE. There currently are over 60 organizations listed in Illinois. The results are sorted by state (they are separately listed as IL, IL Illinois, and Illinois) and within each clump, alphabetically by city. You may wish to contact the organizer for the particular facility to ensure they are still in need before shipping/dropping off any donations.
Do you have access to a 3D printer at home or perhaps at a parent’s work? Around the country, individuals, libraries, and school engineering shops have been using their 3D printers to manufacture portions of PPE. Glencoe’s Library is printing components of protective face shields; these components will be delivered to a local organization that will assemble these parts with parts made by other individuals and organizations in the area to create complete assemblies to deliver to medical professionals and first responders.
If none of these ideas strikes your fancy, there are plenty of additional places to look. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on how Families Find Ways to Help From Home During Pandemic. The article features The Honeycomb Project, a Chicago-based organization that focuses on family volunteering; among their current opportunities are meal-making and quilt-making projects. Gratitude Generation is a North Shore organization that focuses on matching children with social need opportunities.
The troop is not currently aware of any regularly scheduled/publicly announced volunteer opportunities. However, scouts interested in completing conservation projects for Life rank or to provide service in the great outdoors are encouraged to reach out to Mr. Heftman for more information on what opportunities might be available.