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Volunteering looks a bit different this April


Last updated 4/1/2020 at 4:18pm | View PDF

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can,

as long as ever you can.”

— John Wesley

Is this ever a time to do good.

Normally we would extol the virtues of altruism in this space the first week of April because it’s National Volunteer Month. But helping others is even more important as we face the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some ways, it’s also more difficult.

The volunteers who were busy organizing spring and summer fundraisers have had to put plans for the gala or golf outing on hold.

The ones who work at HCS Family Services — who enjoy stocking the shelves and helping clients choose their own groceries — now are staffing a drive-through pantry. They’re pre-packing groceries and loading them in the trunks of cars lined up along the circle drive outside of the Memorial Building.

Others can’t volunteer because the place where they donate their time — schools, churches, libraries — are closed.

And yet people are finding a way to help.

One new customer at Café la Fortuna recently bought a coffee, put a generous gratuity in the tip jar and then handed owner Angela Lavelli $500 to help her get through these tough times.

A group of Hinsdale Central High School students led by Dov Chen is working to raise funds and conduct supply drives for first responders and health care providers. As of Wednesday, the group had raised about $35,000 — including an anonymous donation of $8,600 — through crowdsourcing and had collected donations of masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and laser thermometers. As of March 25, members had distributed more than 2,000 N-95 face masks, 6,000 surgical masks, 1,600 gloves and 100 bottles of hand sanitizer to 30 institutions, including Amita Hinsdale Hospital. To help, visit

On a slightly larger scale, local businessman Al Koplin is spearheading an effort to raise $250,000 for ventilators and other equipment needed by frontline medical staff at Amita Hinsdale Hospital, such as portable ultrasound machines, defibrillators and personal protective equipment. The initiative should come as no surprise — his family has donated more than $5 million to the hospital and its program over the past 21 years.

Sometimes the best way to support others is to share your gratitude. The Community House on Monday launched its a “Seven Days of Thanks” campaign, inviting residents to show their appreciation for those working to slow the spread of COVID-19 or provide necessary services under the constraints of social distancing. Simply make a sign or video and tag The Community House on social media posts with the hashtag #7DaysofThanks.

A special group has been designated for each day: 1. health care providers 2. teachers 3. grocery workers 4. first responders 5. civil servants 6. counselors 7. nonprofit organizations. (We can’t imagine thanks to any group would be unwelcome at any time.)

Do all the good you can, now more than ever.


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