The universally beloved Mr. Rogers has a now-famous quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Since the shutdown of schools and businesses and disruption to the normal flow of life that began in mid-March, we’ve seen Chicago business owners and organizations impressively pivot to not only save their life’s work with new modes of operation but to find ways to selflessly offer support. We’re shining a light on this beautiful bright spot during a ridiculously tough time to share a bit of happy news. Mr. Rogers would be proud, Chicago.

Chance the Rapper's SocialWorks

Humanitarian and Grammy-award-winning Chance the Rapper is a native Chicagoan who has succeeded in his mission to have a life-changing impact via his SocialWorks non-profit that empowers Chicago youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. During Covid-19, SocialWorks is helping using a three-pronged approach: creating a hyperlocal resource guide, conducting an inspirational #30DaysofOpenMike challenge (with a $500 weekly prize for eligible students), and a webinar series titled SWorkshops. Viewers can stream SWorkshops using the link or via social channels on InstagramFacebookTwitter or YouTube.

How to support SocialWorks: Make a monetary donation or volunteer your time and talents to the cause. 

photo: Bandwagon Champs

Bandwagon Champs

Bandwagon Champs makes some pretty sweet Chicago-themed gear that features the Chicago flag and themes that embody what it means to be a true Chicagooan. They created the Chicago Strong collection to help those impacted by the coronavirus, with 100% of the net proceeds benefitting the Chicago Community Covid-19 Response Fund. They need your help to hit their goal of donating $3,000 in May! 

How to support Bandwagon Champs: Purchase a t-shirt or hoodie from the Chicago Strong collection and use them as your go-to going forward when looking for Chicago-themed apparel. 

Autism Speaks

For every kid, rituals and routines can be of great comfort. For kids with autism, they are a necessity. Autism Speaks knows that your world is being turned upside down and new structures are needing to be put in place. Their Autism Response Team (ART) is available to provide personalized information and resources to people with autism by calling 1-888-AUTISM2 or for Spanish-speaking callers 1-888-772-9050.

How to support them post-Covid-19: Much uncertainty surrounds largely attended events in Chicago; but, keep your eye on whether their annual Autism Speaks Walk in Chicago will still be scheduled for 2020. They also have a walk scheduled Oct. 11 in Northfield. Also, consider making a donation on their website. You can even donate stocks!

Summer House Santa Monica

Summer House Santa Monica made movie night magic for a great cause in May. In support of Lurie Children's Hospital, they created Movie Night Kits for Four and $25 for every kit sold directly benefited Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Covid-19 Relief Fund.

How to support Summer House Santa Monica: Order delivery and pick-up of family meals, weekend breakfasts and cocktail kits. After restrictions are lifted, visit their stunning Lincoln Park restaurant that will make you feel transported to the warmth of the West Coast. 

Great Wolf Lodge

Not only did Great Wolf Lodge develop online content for stay-at-homers, to show its immense gratitude to the courageous nurses battling Covid-19, they offered a special rate to all and pledged to donate up to 10,000 complimentary overnight stays to registered nurses. From May 4-12, every room booked using the code THANKYOU gave a room to a registered nurse and unlocked a significant discount for guests staying Jul. 6-Oct. 29.

How to support Great Wolf Lodge: Once Great Wolf Lodge opens their doors in Gurnee, book a stay with the family!

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Chicagoland gave out 25,000 dozen Original Glazed® Doughnuts for free to healthcare workers on Mondays, beginning with National Doctors’ Day on Mar. 30 through May 11 during National Nurses Week.

How to support Krispy Kreme: Visit www.krispykreme.com to place an online order for delivery or door side pickup, find your closest Krispy Kreme shop and get Hot Light alerts. 

Author Jeff Attinella & Cradles to Crayons

Portland Timbers goalkeeper and children's book author Jeff Attinella donated 1,000 new copies of his book The Curse Ends: The Story of the 2016 Chicago Cubs to Cradles to Crayons Chicago, a non-profit that provides children essential items they need to thriveWith the Covid-19 situation, Cradles to Crayons is only donated new learning supplies to students, so donations like this are essential to their success of supporting Chicago's most vulnerable residents.  

How to support Jeff Attinella and Cradles to Crayons: Donate to Cradle to Crayons' Emergency Essentials Fund and purchase one of Jeff Attinella's books via his sports-themed publishing company It Had to Be Told.

Cradles to Crayons and Radio Flyer

To help keep kids active and provide imaginative play, Radio Flyer donated 1,000 wagons, tricycles, scooters and ride-ons to Cradles to Crayons to distribute to Chicago families. That equated to two truckloads of product to Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory that were distributed to those who need them most.

How to support Cradles to Crayons: Donate to Cradle to Crayons' Emergency Essentials Fund to get diapers, hygiene supplies, and other urgent supplies to our most vulnerable families.

YMCA of Metro Chicago

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago teamed up with Houston-based nonprofit, Comp-U-Dopt to supply underserved children in Chicago with free refurbished computers that will allow them to participate in remote learning and close the digital divide. 

Local YMCAs are closed to normal activity, but they created Y on the Go, which gives access to the best local YMCA instructors and education facilitators guiding you through DIY projects, family activities and workouts.

They also partnered with the City of Chicago to serve as emergency shelters to house hundreds of displaced and homeless individuals who were in shelters where they were unable to practice social distancing. 

How to support the YMCA: Make a donation to or join your local YMCA or share your talents and become a Y volunteer.

photo: Nurture Life

Nurture Life

Chicago-based Nurture Life, a subscription food service for kids, has donated 2,300 meals to Lakeview Pantry and continues to provide donations. 
 
How to support Nurture Life: Sign up for their subscription service the provides fresh, ready-to-enjoy food options that appeal to kids ages 10 mos.-18 yrs (and family meals). Each meal focuses on organic produce, antibiotic-free proteins whole grains and can be served up in 2 minutes or less.

Field Museum

The Field Museum printed 3-D face shields for healthcare workers and Meals on Wheels volunteers. The Field normally uses 3D printers to make scientific models used for research, educational toys and materials for visiting field trips. The machines were converted to print NIH-approved face shield support bands. Then, letter-sized sheets of clean 10 mil Mylar or PVC was attached by hand to make complete face shields. 

How to support Field Museum: Purchase a family membership or visit them in person once restrictions are lifted.

Lou Malnati's

Lou Malnati's has raised nearly $50k to feed healthcare workers, firefighters and police officers via their Kindness Rock's initiative. 

How to support Lou Malnati's: Place an order for contactless delivery or curbside pickup and visit their website to make a donation to help feed frontline workers.

photo: Jet's Pizza

For every large, regularly priced pizza purchased on Mondays and Tuesdays through the end of May, using code FRONTLINE, Jet's Pizza's city locations will donate a pizza to a Chicago organization helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How to support Jet's Pizza: Order a pizza delivered or via curbside pickup from Jet's Pizza in the city on a Monday or Tuesday in May and help their cause! And, continue to show them love once restrictions are lifted.  

Featured photo: Day_Photo via Pixabay

— Maria Chambers

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