How we can all help our community at large during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
We’ve found hope these past three months in how members of our Chicago community have looked out for each other’s health and well-being. While life during the global pandemic has been anything but easy, so many of us have taken on the opportunity to support our neighbors in ways both big and small—from donating to local food banks to organizing mutual aid funds to speaking up for racial equality and justice.
With that in mind, all of us here at Yakkety Yak have been thinking about how we can continue to support our community as social distancing and safety measures extend into the summer. Here’s what we came up with.
Support your neighborhood favorites
As regulars at West Loop restaurants around our office, the Yak Pak thought about all the places we’d normally go to during the week that are either remaining closed or opening up with reduced capacity. These include neighborhood favorites such as Taco LuLu, The Ruin Daily and Hannah’s Bretzel, to name a few. If you’re in the area—or even if you’re not—these incredible food spots could use your help. Order our favorite steak burrito to go from Taco LuLu or donate to their Go Fund Me, which benefits their employees during this difficult time. The Ruin Daily isn’t selling food at the moment, but all proceeds from their merch store will go directly into the pockets of their 16 staff members who have been furloughed for months during the pandemic.
After all, while we’ve all recently been honing our cooking skills, it can be great to take a break from washing dishes to order takeout. If you live outside your favorite spot’s delivery range, consider supporting them by purchasing a gift card instead. Then make a point to visit at a later date—even better, bring your friends or family and enjoy it together!
When it comes to other local businesses, such as florists, specialty shops and bookstores, remember that many have been closed or earning less than they normally do for months on end. Even as restrictions ease, make it a point to shop small business whenever you can— many are still struggling to survive the impact of coronavirus. If you aren’t nearby, ordering online lends support from a distance.
Support Black-owned businesses
Also consider specifically supporting Black-owned businesses in Chicago including Ina Mae Tavern—a Yakkety Yak favorite in Wicker Park, Sip and Savor—the perfect place to stop by in Hyde Park for a delicious latte—and Taste 222 Chicago—incredible food right in the West Loop near our office. From hair salons like Time Hair Gallery, which are slowly reopening with strict safety measures in place, to bookstores like the Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery, which is offering curbside pickup, there are plenty of Black-owned businesses for Chicagoans to enjoy.
For a full listing of Black-owned establishments in your neighborhood, head over to the incredible Black Owned Chicago website. If you live outside of Chicago, consider downloading an app like EatOkra or Black Nation, which makes it easy to locate and support Black-owned businesses around the world.
Contribute to nonprofits
Nonprofit organizations make a lot of their money from fundraising events throughout the year that, for obvious reasons, may not have taken place. In lieu of this, the Yak Pak has been thinking about how we can support causes near and dear to our hearts by making financial contributions and sharing our favorite causes on social media to spread the word. One way we’re doing this is by supporting Cara, a Chicago-based nonprofit that creates pathways out of poverty through quality employment. If you want to help make a difference, donate to Cara and send your receipt to email@example.com. We will match up to $1,000!
Yakkety Yak team members are also currently passionate about giving back to NGOs, including No Kid Hungry, an organization that provides free meals and nutrition programs to families, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a fund that pays bond for people arrested in Cook County and Campaign Zero, a nonprofit with a vision for ending police violence in America. Check out our Instagram for more—and let us know where you’re donating during the pandemic to provide relief for those most impacted by coronavirus and to support racial justice and equality.
NBC Chicago pointed out that blood donations have sunk dangerously low during the coronavirus pandemic, and both the Red Cross and Vitalent have recently declared blood bank shortages. In a time when blood drives have to be canceled and people have been staying home unless absolutely necessary for months, it’s to be expected. Unfortunately, even though the novel coronavirus is rightfully the number one health concern worldwide, other health issues don’t stop happening altogether. As supplies dwindle, there are still people who desperately need blood transfusions.
Evidence so far shows that COVID-19 cannot be spread through blood, and The Red Cross and Vitalant have taken all necessary precautions to keep anyone who comes in safe and healthy. Schedule an appointment to help ensure that the blood bank stays steady during this uncertain time.
If you’ve recovered from coronavirus, you may be able to help patients currently fighting the infection by donating your plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that carries cells and proteins throughout the body. If you have been symptom-free for at least two weeks, you may be eligible to give your plasma, which now contains COVID-19 antibodies. Find out more about convalescent plasma here.
Adopt an animal from a local shelter
With many businesses extending work from home to reduce their employees’ risk of coronavirus exposure, it’s still a good time to get a new pet acclimated to your home. What a win this would be for both you and the animal! Yakkety Yak Content Editor Heather Hobbs submitted an adoption application for a rescue dog in April and got an adorable Golden Retriever/Saluki mix to make her days of social distancing go by faster. Getting the pet she’s always wanted has made her that much happier—and gives her an excuse to go for walks every day.
If you have the space and means, another option is to foster an animal from a shelter such as PAWS Chicago. They’re even offering a service to help people temporarily unable to care for their pets. Fostering makes it possible not to make an absolutely permanent commitment to an animal if that isn’t an option for you right now, while still genuinely helping out a pet in need of a warm, loving home for the next couple months. Plus, think about how great it would be to have a soft, fluffy roommate to cuddle up with. Rescues and shelters are also looking for donations to help out the animals in their care.
Reach out to friends and family who are alone
Although many places have begun reopening, social distancing is still recommended to reduce the chance of catching and spreading coronavirus—especially for at-risk groups, including older adults and anyone who is immunocompromised or has a preexisting condition. While some of us are able to enjoy some aspects of our normal lives again, be sure to reach out to those who can’t take those risks. As we all know by now, it’s hard to be alone for weeks on end. So if you have friends and family who aren’t comfortable with in-person meetups yet for whatever reason, keep scheduling phone calls and virtual happy hours so you can stay connected. Even as the world begins reopening, make a special point to keep in touch with friends and family you suspect to be in the most at-risk populations for this virus. Even if it’s just to reach out and say, “Hey, I’m here if you need to talk,” it can be very helpful just to let them know you care and are available to listen.
Another great way to stay connected is to have dinner via video chat with friends and family. Especially for someone living alone, having a meal with other people—even if it’s virtual—can lift that weight of loneliness. You can also consider sending a care package, such as one from Packed with Purpose, to someone you think could really use it—just like our CEO Ashley did for all of us here at Yakkety Yak!
Continue to stay home when you can, and wear your mask
Look forward to brighter days from the security of your home—and while wearing a mask during social-distancing outings. It may seem like it’s already been so long since social isolation practices started, but it’s not all over quite yet. Even as measures are lifted, the most important thing we can all do together is to continue to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in any way possible. By doing our small part in the overall battle, we’re protecting those around us and the community as a whole.
How are you supporting and uplifting those around you during this time? Share your story with us, or let us help you tell it.