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DeKALB – Katie Geer of DeKalb was watching the TV news when she heard a story about donations being taken to help provide meals to health care workers and first responders in Chicago.
“I was actually feeling helpless because I wanted to help, but didn’t know how to,” Geer said. “Then I heard the story on the news. I thought that it was a great idea, something that could be done here to thank the caretakers, medical staff and nursing home staff for all of the hard work they’ve been doing. It’s also important to help local businesses, because dining in is not allowed in restaurants.”
This past week, Gov. JB Pritzker barred Illinois bars and restaurants from serving sit-down customers until April 8, extending a previous March 30 deadline after issuing a stay-at-home executive order on Friday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state. Establishments have been allowed to continue to operate via drive-through or pickup and can fulfill delivery orders.
To help boost local restaurant sales and give back to health care workers, Geer, with the help of her friend from high school, Melissa Gorbet Butts, started a GoFundMe page called, “Taking Care of Our Care Takers ~ DeKalb County IL.”
As of Sunday afternoon, more than $7,500 had been raised by 189 donors. The page states that the goal of the campaign is to raise money to buy food from local restaurants and deliver it to health care workers.
A Facebook group, “Taking Care of Our Care Takers,” also has been created to share ideas and photos of the food deliveries. More than 200 people already have joined the group.
On Friday, 37 meals were purchased from The Lincoln Inn in DeKalb and delivered to Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital; 22 meals for the emergency room staff and 15 meals for the intensive care staff.
On Saturday, breakfast was provided by Common Grounds in DeKalb, lunch was provided by Domino’s Pizza in DeKalb and dinner was provided by Sweet Dream Desserts and Catering in Sycamore.
“It’s important to take care of our caretakers because they’re on the front lines, fighting and battling the coronavirus,” Geer said. “When we’re sheltering in place and staying home, they’re at work, being exposed to it and maybe even taking it home to their families. They’re taking care of us as a community. We should take care of them.”
Gorbet Butts, who no longer lives in DeKalb County and now resides an hour west in Deer Grove, said helping local restaurants while at the same time helping medical and health care workers is “a win-win for everybody.”
“We want to let our caretakers know that we appreciate them during this difficult time,” Gorbet Butts said. “It’s been amazing how everyone has been donating money and wanting to help. If we all band together, we can make it through this. It will change us, but it doesn’t have to destroy us. We are stronger together.”
Also on Friday, Wired Nutrition in DeKalb and Kate’s Place in Sycamore teamed up to bring shakes to nurses at Kishwaukee Hospital. Customers could stop in to purchase a shake to donate. In the evening, 75 shakes were donated to nurses at the hospital.
In a news release, Jay Anderson, president of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, said how grateful he and hospital caregivers are for the meals and shakes they have received.
“I wish the community could have seen the smiles and emotional tears of our caregivers as they accepted the meals and protein shakes,” Anderson said. “We are so thankful for this community we serve.”