Home Before Your Move The Quarantine Donation Program Helps Chicago Non-Profits

The Quarantine Donation Program Helps Chicago Non-Profits

by Ali Wenzke

How can we be happy right now in the middle of a pandemic? The age-old answer is to help someone else. People moving have always helped non-profit organizations when they declutter and donate their items. COVID-19 tried to keep movers and non-profits apart, but we found a solution. If you live in the Chicago area, you can donate to the Chicago Furniture Bank and Humble Design through the Quarantine Donation Program. Regardless of where you live, you can find happiness during the pandemic by showing kindness to others and practicing gratitude.

What is the Quarantine Donation Program?

The Quarantine Donation Program is a way for you to donate your unwanted furniture and household items safely. You take your items to the Winnetka Congregational Church at 725 Pine Street, Winnetka, IL. You place your items in the PODS containers or the U-Boxes to benefit the Chicago Furniture Bank and Humble Design. This contactless service allows the non-profit organizations to continue to help their clients.

When can I drop off my furniture and household items?

You can drop off your furniture and household items every day from 9 AM to 5 PM at 725 Pine Street in Winnetka, IL. The Quarantine Donation Program will run through August 23, 2020.

What items are needed most?

Humble Design needs: twin and full-size mattresses, box springs, bedding, mattress pads, duvet fillers, towels, pots and pans, countertop microwaves, blenders, shower curtain rods, tall kitchen garbage cans, tall dressers, and toasters.

The Chicago Furniture Bank needs: all furniture, but especially kitchen tables, chairs, and dressers.

What makes a house feel like a home? First, a bed. Imagine spending quarantine on the floor.

What items do you not accept?

Please no sports equipment, clothing, or seasonal items. Our main focus is furniture. However, we cannot accept large armoires, china cabinets, entertainment centers, outdoor furniture, large bookshelves, or wooden bed frames. Humble Design and the Chicago Furniture Bank help people who are transitioning from homelessness. Imagine you are a client. If you were to receive one box of household items to make your house feel like home, does your donation fit into that category? If not, please save your items for another organization.

How has COVID-19 impacted Humble Design?

“Imagine moving into a new home after months of homelessness and then having to sleep on the floor during quarantine,” says Julie Dickinson, Director of Humble Design Chicago. “Moving families, individuals, and veterans from crowded shelters to their own home is more critical today than ever before. However, this pandemic has only created more barriers to resources for those who need them.”

The Humble Design team has found creative and safe ways to help their clients. “After working closely with legal counsel from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) to develop COVID-19 guidelines and safety procedures, on April 27, we launched Humble Design Home Kits. We provide curbside delivery of household goods and furnishings for families, individuals and veterans exiting homelessness. In the past two weeks, we’ve dropped household goods and furnishings at 11 homes. We’ve gotten 32 people, including 21 children, off the floor and in beds of their own.”

 

Humble Design Home Kits help families, individuals and veterans exiting homelessness.

Photo provided by Humble Design Chicago

How has COVID-19 impacted the Chicago Furniture Bank?

“We haven’t been able to go into homes to pick up residential furniture donations due to safety concerns,” says Griffin Amdur, Director and co-Founder of the Chicago Furniture Bank. “We have also had to shift our appointments with our clients receiving furniture from in person to online. It was essential that the Chicago Furniture Bank stay open. Many people in Chicago are quarantined without furniture, so they are sleeping on the ground. This is awful and not conducive to staying inside.”

The financial hit on the non-profit organization is a concern as well. “The Chicago Furniture Bank gives all the furniture away for free. Suggested donations from pickups is our main source of revenue, which has gone away due to this pandemic,” says Griffin Amdur.

It is essential the Chicago Furniture Bank stays open.

Photo provided by the Chicago Furniture Bank

Your donations make a huge difference

“The Quarantine Donation Program has been a great help. Due to risks created by COVID-19, we have suspended home pick-ups for donations,” says Julie Dickinson. “This donation program gives Humble Design a safe way to receive donated goods. Plus, it is such a good way for people on the North Shore to donate all the little items people need to make their house function – from silverware and comforters to beds and tables. It’s also another amazing way U-Haul is supporting Humble Design. In addition to donating two U-Boxes, they donate our truck and warehouse space.”

“In our first pickup, we received a donated yoga kit. We were so excited. That week we were planning a drop for a mom who was hoping to create a yoga zone in her apartment,” says Dickinson. “Along with beds, kitchen supplies, sheets, and towels, thanks to the Quarantine Donation Program, we were able to include a special yoga package just in time for Mother’s Day.”

We were so excited about the donation of a yoga kit.

Humble Design included a special yoga package for Mother’s Day.

Photos provided by Humble Design Chicago

“The Quarantine Donation Program has been an amazing and convenient source of high quality furniture,” says Amdur. “Because we aren’t picking up residential donations, which are generally 60% of the Chicago Furniture Bank’s furniture supply, we are in need of furniture now more than ever.”

Emptying the PODS container filled with furniture donations.

Mission accomplished.

The furniture is on its way to the Chicago Furniture Bank.

Photos provided by the Chicago Furniture Bank

Thank you to U-Haul and PODS for sponsoring the Quarantine Donation Program!  

Fred Rogers said to look for the helpers during difficult times. Large companies are often overlooked, even though they do so much behind the scenes. I’m thankful for U-Haul and PODS, because we never could have created the Quarantine Donation Program without them. They donated the U-Boxes and PODS containers to provide a space for people to donate furniture and home décor items in a safe way.

“We have seen the impact the Chicago Furniture Bank has had on so many of our neighbors. PODS is proud to support the Chicago Furniture Bank’s efforts by helping quarantine donations in our portable storage containers,” says Trent Brock, Community Development Marketing Specialist of PODS Enterprises.

“When Humble Design asked for two U-Box portable storage containers to collect needed donations to benefit shelters and Chicagoans in need, our U-Haul team was all in,” says Jeff Lockridge, Manager of Media and Public Relations for U-Haul International.

Thank you, U-Haul and PODS!

How did the Quarantine Donation Program start?

It started as a way to help people moving. Tania from St. Charles, MO, reached out to me in March. Tania decluttered, she identified furniture she wanted to donate, and she set up a donation pick-up with Salvation Army. Then, COVID-19 happened. Salvation Army cancelled the pick-up. Despite calls to Goodwill, St Vincent dePaul, and Home Sweet Home, she could not find a local solution. Although I couldn’t help Tania in St. Charles before her April 6th move, her story inspired the creation of the Quarantine Donation Program in Chicago.

How has the Quarantine Donation Program impacted people moving?

“My clients have said that it’s super easy and nice to have a place to drop off furniture items at this time when typical donation centers and consignment shops are not open,” says Katie Dunlop, Real Estate Broker at @Properties.

What has it been like for people moving during the pandemic?

“With an abundance of caution, my clients are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of moving,” says Julie Jensen, Realtor at Baird & Warner. “Buyers and their agents are wearing masks and conducting touch-less showings. Prior to showings, sellers are turning all lights on and leaving closet doors ajar to eliminate the need to touch surfaces. And amazingly, closings are even happening via teleconference with a notary.”

Showing kindness to others will make you happier

Thank you for your donations during this time. Every time you share kindness with someone else, you make their day brighter. My hope is that your day becomes brighter as well.

Practice gratitude during difficult times

If ever there was a time to lament our losses, this would be it. It’s okay to complain. Yet, if you want a sliver of hope, find a reason to be grateful every day. I am grateful for my morning jog and home-made chocolate chip cookies (and my health and my family.)  We are grateful to you for helping the Chicago Furniture Bank and Humble Design and the people who are transitioning from homelessness right now. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for your kindness.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to assist people exiting homelessness, every dollar helps.  You can click here for the Chicago Furniture Bank and Humble Design.

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