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The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched resources at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.
“We’re running at maximum capacity and that’s added onto the other needs at the center,” said Yuliana Mendez, one of the center’s board members.
The center is reaching out to the community for help in any way it can, including making requests through social media, Mendez said.
Food donations, monetary donations and volunteer help are all needed, and translators are available, she said.
“No small deed is insignificant,” Mendez said. “Anything is of value.”
Food-wise, the Spanish Community Center has jumped from having 200 families visiting the weekly food pantry each week to 300 to 350 families.
The center also has provided more than 200 families with emergency relief assistance, such as those who have lost their jobs and need help for basic living expenses.
To help meet the increased need, the center diverted $200,000 that would have been used for other services, Mendez said.
At the same time, the center has had to postpone its annual fundraising dinner due to the pandemic.
“We’re focusing on this immediate need for the community,” Mendez said. “The whole board is helping, doing things that usually some from the staff do. That’s how great the need is right now. I think we all have it in our hearts to help in whatever capacity we can.”
How to help
Food donations are accepted 9 a.m. to noon Mondays. Food will be distributed 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays
The Spanish Community Center has refrigerators and freezers available to accept products that need to be stored in cooler temperatures.
Food options needed right now include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh deli meat, eggs, rice, beans, tortilla, cooking oil, milk, cheese and yogurt.
Donations of masks are greatly needed, too. These can be handmade or store-bought.
Only a handful of the 300 people that come to the Spanish Community Center food pantry are wearing masks.
Share My Check campaign
Check donations also welcome. These help the Spanish Community Center provide needed goods and services.
Make checks payable to payable to the Spanish Community Center and then mail to the center at 309 Eastern Ave. Joliet, Illinois, 60432.
The Spanish Community Center is accepting donations on its website toward an emergency cash assistance program that provides up to $1,000 for qualifying families. To donate, visit spanishcenter.org/relief.