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Cases of COVID-19 in Illinois have reached more than 100, with cases now confirmed in neighboring Will County.
While Grundy County has yet to see its first positive test for the novel coronavirus, closures and cancellations are impacting the area in a ripple effect for businesses and special services.
At We Care of Grundy County, organizers are working to ensure that some of the county's most vulnerable members are getting what they need.
On Monday, We Care began distributing food boxes as a drive through service, eliminating client access to the community food pantry's building at 530 Bedford Rd. in Morris.
Volunteers and staff are being positioned at the garage at the back of the building during distribution hours, and are loading the cars of clients with food in pre-packed boxes.
Volunteers and staff will be issued appropriate personal protective equipment to help minimize the spread of potential illness.
As of Monday, the organization plans for distributions from 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, but those plans are subject to change depending on if and when COVID-19 spreads into the area.
We Care Executive Director Eric Fisher said volunteers would pre-pack and bring items to cars, eliminating the need for people to get out of their cars or physically interact with workers.
"We are distributing one set of prepackaged boxes (three boxes total) per car," FIsher said. "It would be best to come alone to minimize risk. They do not need to bring anything. Volunteers will load the their cars for them. There will be no sign in or paper work. Simply pull up, pop your trunk, and the volunteer will load their car."
Fisher also asked for some patience as the entire country navigates the pandemic together.
"The most important thing is to stay calm and expect a wait in line," he said. "We ask for patience and understanding that the process will be less than ideal, but we are all working together to get through this. "
Those utilizing We Care of Grundy County are asked to pull into the back parking lot off of Michael Drive and follow directions to loop around to the garage door. Cars will enter and wait in single file as volunteers load their food.
Even before the service started on 1 p.m. on Monday, four cars were already waiting in the queue.
Anyone who needs emergency assistance can still contact We Care of Grundy County at 815-942-6389 ext 3. Fisher asked clients to please leave a clear message including name and phone number if they connect to voicemail. The building will remain closed to the public until further notice.
Fisher said for the time being, the organization has stopped accepting donations, and instead is working on providing what they can, while they can.
"As of right now, we are only taking deliveries from the Northern Illinois Food Bank in order to combat any potential contamination," Fisher said, adding that folks who want to help can do so with monetary donations. "People can donate on our website at www.wecareofgrundy.com/how-can-you-help. Financial donations are essential right now. We are purchasing boxes to prepackage food distribution."
Some fresh food items and bread will not available at this time, nor are clothing items.
The public can keep up to date with We Care of Grundy County by following their Facebook page.
"We will be updating our Facebook page as the situation changes," FIsher said. "What we are doing now for distribution may change. Please watch our Facebook page for updates. The situation is changing at a national level quickly, and so what we expect to happen today may not be what happens tomorrow. This is a very frustrating and stressful time for everyone. We are all in this together and we will all get through this together. Stay safe, stay calm and exercise appropriate caution at this time."