From hand-sewn cloth masks made by sewing circles and Facebook groups to face shields created by a teenager on his 3D printer to gloves and cleaning supplies and pledges of meals for front line health care workers and donations of Girl Scout cookies, communities across the Ministry are sharing the love for OSF HealthCare.
“The daily tracking of the outpouring of support tells a great story of how the communities we serve are now serving us with the greatest care and love,” said Eric Webb, vice president and administrative officer for Pointcore, Inc.
Cary Schoenau, a system analyst with Pointcore who during non-COVID-19 times project manages the implementation of Premier ERP and organizes the annual Supply Chain Service Member Meeting and Partner Expo, has been on the front line fielding phone calls and emails from people wanting to donate.
Since not all donations come though the SupportOSF email inbox, which is the email account co-managed by Eric and Cary, every donation has not been account for. Regardless, the community support has been impressive as every hospital has benefited from the generosity of neighbors and the local businesses. To date, donations have come in from 63 businesses, 296 community members and 55 Mission Partners of OSF.
“Every item donated and every effort put forth to help OSF out is so, so appreciated,” Cary said. “It’s been very rewarding to engage with the communities – to Be One with our donors because we are better and definitely stronger together. I get to see the goodness of our communities during a very challenging time for all of us. It’s very uplifting. Just talking about it makes me emotional.”
Want to help?
One offer that sticks out for Cary is a call from a farmer who is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Farmers.
“He let me know that they’re a group of area farmers with some members even outside the state and they could help transport our goods for us. For example, if we needed something picked up at a 3M plant in South Dakota, they would make that happen,” she said. “It made me emotional because my grandfather was a farmer. I know how farmers come together and help each other out in difficult times.”
Cary filed the offer away in her memory bank.
“Then my phone rings and it was a lady calling from the Midwest Food Bank in Peoria and she had five pallets of gloves she could donate. I told her about this farmer and his offer – I was able to call the farmer right back and he helped us out,” she said. “He picked up the five pallets of gloves and delivered them to our central warehouse. He helped us out another time, too, by picking up donations of gloves, face shields and N95 masks from Harbor Freight in Danville and Bloomington.”
Oh, the masks!
Whether surgical masks, painter masks, N95 masks or hand-sewn cloth masks, OSF has received thousands of donated masks, Eric said.
A spreadsheet Cary maintains shows quite the uptick in donated hand-sewn cloth masks in the Western Region – particularly, Monmouth, Galesburg and Kewanee.
“We have a lot of sewing circles over there,” Cary said. “We also have a very active Facebook group that is dedicated to making 10 masks per group member. The donations continue to come in.”
While Cary can’t say exactly how many hand-sewn masks have been donated, she does know they’ve tracked donations from 168 sewers with the oldest being 94 years old.
“We currently have about 570 hand-sewn cloth masks in inventory for Mission Partners across the Ministry.”
Cary relayed one story of a woman in the Bloomington area who was making masks from material her daughter had purchased to make quilts for her own daughters.
“The daughter purchased the material when she was going through chemotherapy with the intention of making quilts,” she said. “She passed away five years ago, so the woman is using that material her late daughter bought to make masks and will buy different material to make quilts for her granddaughters.”
Donations of food continue to pour in across the Ministry and stay at the receiving facility, Cary said.
Cary received a call from a gentleman who is collecting donations under the group, Aid Our Heroes, to pay for health care worker meals.
“So far, he’s collected $5,000 to provide meals to the front line workers at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and he’ll continue to let me know as he gets more donations because he want to continue to feed front line workers as long as he can raise the funds,” she said. “Also, the pastor of Light of the World Church reached out to pledge 100 meals for OSF Saint Francis.”
Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago has donated meals to OSF Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Evergreen Park along with several other individuals and organizations. Broaster in the Rockford area also donated 50 meals to health care workers there, Cary said.
Schools, colleges and churches
Gloves, safety glasses, cleaning supplies and more have been donated by colleges, prep schools, private schools, public schools and churches.
“A Bloomington principal went through her school supplies and found gloves and cleaning supplies they wouldn’t be using to donate to the COVID-19 efforts and said she would also reach out to other schools to see what they could donate,” Cary said. “We’re told, ‘we have supplies, we’re not going to use for the rest of the year. What can we do for you?’ “
Several in our various communities have come forward to say, “We have 3D printers – how can we help? We had a 15-year-old boy in Metamora make face shields,” Cary said. “We’ve had a lot of people making ear guards – protection from the wear and tear on ears from wearing ear loop masks.
“Donors are creatively doing what they can to help out,” Cary said.
Donating the donations
There are some donations that OSF is unable to use and in return reaches out to other organizations that may benefit.
The main example Cary referenced was a donation of latex gloves.
“Due to latex allergies, we don’t use latex. We received several donations of latex gloves and I called Peoria Rescue Ministries. They average 80 men a night and serve three meals a day and also serve a shelter for women and children. They were ecstatic to get these supplies,” she said. “It was great that we were able to get the gloves to someone who could use them.”
Distributing the donations
Once individuals reach out to learn where they can drop off their donations, Cary said she has little to no additional contact.
When donations of supplies are dropped off at a drop-off site anywhere in the Ministry, they are sent to the central warehouse in Peoria where they are then distributed across the Ministry based on need, Cary said.
“The donations are kept separate from our normal inventory and are used first,” she said.
The heart behind the donations
“Working with the donations has been very rewarding. When communities come together like this … and the enthusiasm to be so generous to OSF. The farmer I mentioned, his son was born at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, and that place is very special to him.
“I work with a gentleman at Home Depot in the Chicago area. He dropped off gloves and N95 masks to OSF Little Company of Mary this morning and he told me that’s where he was born and his mother and sister still live in the area.
“OSF holds a special place in the heart of a lot of people.”