Crystal Lake’s Erin McElroy started “Project Front Line: McHenry County COVID-19 Support” with an initial fundraising goal of $10,000 to help health care workers, first responders and local small businesses amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In little more than a month, the Project Front Line GoFundMe campaign reached $30,000 in donations.
By Thursday morning, the campaign surpassed $50,000 in donations from 542 people. That money has been used to make more than 70 deliveries to more than 8,100 front-line workers in McHenry County.
Forty local restaurants and businesses have participated since the project launched March 22.
This week’s deliveries included:
• Gift cards and frozen smoothies from Chilly Willie’s in Woodstock to Harvard Area Community Center.
• 30 boxed lunches from McHenry The Way We Like It Cafe to McHenry Community Health Center.
• Gift cards from Papa Saverio’s in Crystal Lake to Family Health Partnership Clinic in Crystal Lake.
• Tea and cookies from Casting Whimsy in Woodstock and chocolate bars from Ethereal Confections in Woodstock to Mercyhealth Harvard Hospital.
• 150 cinnamon rolls from The Sugar Circle in Woodstock to Mercyhealth Woodstock Urgent Care.
• Gift cards and popcorn balls from Pop’s Corn Crib in Crystal Lake, subs from Bubs Subs in Algonquin and gift cards from Georgio’s Pizzeria in Crystal Lake to 475 health care workers (day shift) at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital.
• Sandwiches from ShadowView Brewing in Woodstock to 175 health care workers (night shift) at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital.
• 90 gift cards from Rock N Grill in Lake in the Hills, 85 gift cards from Eggville Cafe in Cary and 175 treats from Konrads Bakery in Lake in the Hills to 350 health care workers (day shift) at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.
• 180 treats from Kay n’ Jo’s Eats & Sweets in Marengo to 180 health care workers (night shift) at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital.
• Cookies, brownies and gift cards from SweetPea Cakes in Crystal Lake to 74 health care workers (day shift) at Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital.
• Gift cards and scones from Conscious Cup in Crystal Lake to 75 health care workers (night shift) at Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital.
McElroy, along with co-creators Rod Crandall of Algonquin, Devon Tessmer and Alexandra Eesley of Crystal Lake and Anne Marie Brown of Woodstock, were confident the project would resonate loudly.
Comments from donors and others on Facebook and the GoFundMe Page, and hundreds of responses and photos from front-line workers and local businesses and restaurants helped give Project Front Line a further sense of community.
“Particularly in McHenry County, there’s a lot of pride in the communities we live in,” McElroy said. “We live here and say they’re great places to live, work and raise a family. This project is a testament to that: that we are all in this together.
“Even in challenging times, we want the best for individuals and the business community. If you have an idea to help someone, just do it. If you see your neighbor’s lawn isn’t mowed, mow their lawn for them. Whatever it is, no act of kindness is unworthy and doesn’t go unrecognized.”
The project started off with deliveries to health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, at hospitals. It later expanded to include first responders, pharmacies and long-term care facilities.
When Sheltered Village in Woodstock, a residential home for adults with developmental disabilities had a COVID-19 outbreak, Project Front Line safely organized a week of deliveries to residents and staff. On Tuesday, Sheltered Village announced that they have been symptom-free since April 28.
“This is why we exist,” McElroy said. “These front-line workers that are under tremendous amount of stress, trying to stay healthy themselves, all while caring for the most compromised population. When we stopped, they saw some success stories, where patients started coming back healthy.
“There’s been moments when it was tough because of what some other people were sharing on the other end of the phone. It’s been an extraordinary experience, it’s been really moving and emotional.”
This week wraps up the last week of deliveries by Project Front Line. Funds left over will be donated to the United Way of Greater McHenry County Community COVID-19 Response Fund.
McElroy encourages everyone to continue their support of local businesses and front-line workers.
Reach out to local businesses on Facebook or look to support nonprofits, such as Home of the Sparrow, TLS Veterans and Turning Point of McHenry County, McElroy said.
“I think a phrase a lot of people have heard is, ‘One person or a small group of people that set out on a common goal can make a difference,’ ” McElroy said. “If you set your mind to something, you share it and are in action, good things can happen. You just have to be willing to start and to take action. There’s a lot of goodness and kindness in this world.”