Across Illinois, people come together to help during COVID-19 pandemic

(The Center Square) – Good things are happening across Illinois in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local organizations are working to deliver necessities to vulnerable people, manufacturing companies are donating resources to make personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers and people and businesses are donating money to help those who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ken Cooley, who owns a manufacturing company in Champaign County called ShapeMaster, is working with groups from the University of Illinois and developers with 3-D printers to make masks for those who need them.

“We’re donating our time and our money on this,” Cooley said. “We’re not making any money on these prototype N95 masks. We’re just simply wanting to be part of the community. It’s a real rush to be part of a group that gets so excited, and profit isn’t their motive, it’s just trying to meet the needs of the community.”

He said he created a mask and other components in his shop with the help of academics and other engineers.

“As far as the face shields go, the plastic I provided on Saturday could make up to 3,500 face shields this week and that’s very potential,” Cooley said. “That’s very real, and they’re quick to make.”

One thing Cooley said the company is working to get emergency approval from federal regulators before they can get the masks to where they’re needed.

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, has for weeks been putting the call out for people in his community to volunteer with Helping Hands deliver goods to senior citizens.

“A lot of people that the volunteers keep coming in,” Batinick said. “We’ve seen a little bit of a spike of people realizing that ‘hey, I probably should stay home and ask for some help.’ … Thank you to all the volunteers. Literally we are saving lives with this, so that’s fantastic.”

People from across the state have donated millions of dollars to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund. The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, working with the Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Office, established the fund to “raise funds from individual, corporate, and foundation donors to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to its website.

Donations can be made online at

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