Project Front Line: McHenry COVID-19 Support launches; goal is $10,000 to help local business

Crystal Lake resident Erin McElroy waited in a checkout line at Mariano's and thought about ways she and others can support local workers affected by the global pandemic of COVID-19.

"You can't tip that young grocery store clerk," McElroy said. "It's not appropriate in society to just leave a $5 bill with your groceries. I'm not sure I can solve all of the greater concerns in the world, but I still feel like there's something as a citizen that I can do.

"How do we bring positivity and support? What can we do from our couches that's positive? We can come together and bring smiles to the front lines, infuse some dollars in the economy."

As schools, restaurants and bars were ordered to close by Gov. JB Pritzker, McElroy saw an increasing need to help those around her and lift spirits in the community, especially for those on the front lines.

So McElroy, who used to work in the nonprofit industry, helped set up an online fundraiser called, "Project Front Line: McHenry COVID-19 Support." One of the campaign's taglines is "a simple demonstration of kindness."

As stated on the campaign's GoFundMe page, money raised will be used "towards purchasing provisions like breakfast, lunch, beverages and other treats from local businesses to show our front-line workers how appreciative we are to their efforts and to help boost moral."

Launched on Sunday, the campaign has raised $4,420 of the campaign's $10,000 goal through Tuesday morning.

The campaign states that "all funds will be used for purchases to support McHenry County front-line workers," with a dedicated account at Crystal Lake Bank & Trust set up for deposits. Additionally, "each donation is a double effort to keep up morale for our front-line workers, plus fueling businesses with sales."

McElroy wants to see provisions first go to health care workers and first responders. In time, that could extend to pharmacists, grocery store staff and other essential services, as stated on the GoFundMe page.

McElroy has seen an outpouring of support and shares on Facebook, and many businesses have reached out about providing provisions and delivery services. McElroy named Moontime Smokin' Que, Georgio's, Just 4 You Treats, 1776 Restaurant, Conscious Cup and 3 Chefs Catering as some of the first businesses to express interest.

Restaurants, cafes, florists and any other food service businesses interested in participating can submit their business information on a form provided on the GoFundMe page. That form is also on the campaign's Facebook page.

"Even if someone gives $5 or shares it five times, it can bring a smile to somebody's face," McElroy said. "Even if we only make five deliveries, it's making a positive vibration in the world. We're hoping those first deliveries brings on another wave of excitement and people from their couches saying, "Oh, I want to pool my money together,' so another delivery happens. The sky is the limit."

McElroy is excited to see where the campaign goes from here.

Just 4 You Treats is putting an order together for delivery later this week. Any updates on completed projects or deliveries will be provided on the campaign's GoFundMe and Facebook page.

"I'm really moved from what I've seen in the past 24 hours," McElroy said. "I'm moved by the people that took my calls and listened. I'm moved by all of the strangers who have connected or felt compelled to give or share, and I do feel a sense of gratitude.

"Anyone out there that's going to participate, share or connect, thank you. And thank you to the front lines. We're going to give a little bit of pick-me-up to somebody."

For local volunteer opportunities in McHenry County, visit the Volunteer Center McHenry County.

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