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College of ACES and Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab are producing hand sanitizer

The College of ACES and Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab are collaborating to produce and also package industrial-size amounts of hand sanitizer and shipping it to UIC, who then distributes it to hospitals. They have the capability to make a several hundred gallons a day, which is kind of amazing. 

Last week, we learned that Grainger College of Engineering created a prototype for an emergency ventilator.

You can find out more about all of the ways the entire University of Illinois system is making a difference right now by heading to their newsroom

Photo from University of Illinois System Newsroom. 

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Champaign County COVID-19 Relief Fund is helping with housing and home learning

A couple of weeks ago, Community Foundation of East Central Illinois and United Way of Champaign County announced the formation of a Champaign County COVID-19 Relief Fund to support community-based organizations providing direct relief for local individuals and families.

They've already stepped up in two different ways: housing support and school supply funding.

The housing assistance grant is a $20,000 grant to "provide housing assistance to those most impacted by lay-offs and reduced work hours due to the Coronavirus pandemic."

Eligibility:

  • Lives in Champaign County
  • Renters without housing subsidies (i.e. renters receiving subsidized housing are not eligible)
  • Renters with earned income prior to Stay at Home order
  • Renters who have applied for unemployment insurance as a result of COVID-19 wage losses and do not qualify for unemployment insurance
  • Income up to 250% federal poverty level

Inquiries can be made to the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission by calling 877-548-4205, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The RPC will screen and connect individuals with Cunnigham or Champaign Township for a one-time assistance payment. 

The fund, with the help of a $1000 contribution from C-U School Foundation will also be providing $5000 in school supplies for close to students in Champaign and Urbana Schools who don't have access to home learning supplies. They will receive loose-leaf paper, composition notebooks, pencils, manual pencil sharpeners, pens, folders, colored pencils, crayons, rulers, glue sticks and note cards. 

They will also be giving $2000 to Rantoul schools. 

If you'd like to donate to the relief fund, you can do so here

Image from Community Foundation of East Central Illinois Facebook page.

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Hamilton Walker’s is offering limited takeout items

Hamilton Walker's has been closed for the past couple of weeks, but now they are doing limited takeout service of some of their cuts of meat for you to take home and cook, as well as vodka and coffee. Meat, vodka, and coffee; all you need to get you through staying at home. 

Here are the meats:

A list of cuts of meat for sale. There is a dark blue background and the text is white and yellow. Image from Hamilton Walker's. Image from Hamilton Walker's. 

You can also order vodka, for $25, crafted in Illinois specifically for the restaurant:

A portion of a bottle of vodka. It has a beige label with the Hamilton Walker's logo; and orange circle with a red circle inside of it and HW in white. Image from Hamilton Walker's. Image from Hamilton Walker's.

They have a signature house blend created by Columbia Street Roastery, that they are selling in 12 oz whole bean packages.

Three bags of coffee. The bags are brown with white labels that say House Blend, Medium Roast Full Bodied. Image from Hamilton Walker's. Image from Hamilton Walker's.

Order by emailing gm@hamiltonwalkers.com. Orders need to be placed by 8 p.m. on Thursday, for pick up on Saturday or Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

In our house, we are going to attempt to recreate their amazing steakburgers, which is part of our favorite Hamilton Walker's date night order. Maybe we'll even try to throw in the other components, their spinach salad and a couple of fancy cocktails. 

Top photo by Julie McClure.

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The Small Business Development Center is hosting webinars about receiving financial assistance

Small Business Development Center Director Don Elmore will be leading webinars about the financial assistance options available to small businesses during this crisis. There will be a 30-45 minute presentation, followed by a Q&A via chat box. 

Each webinar will cover:

  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
  • State of Illinois – Hospitality Emergency Grant Program
  • State of Illinois – Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
  • State of Illinois – Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program
  • Accion - Expedited Line of Credit (+ other Accion services)
  • Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program
  • U.S. Government – Keeping Workers Paid and Employed -Division A of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

There are four options for sessions to attend. Each will cover the same material, though they will reflect any changes that have occurred in this rapidly evolving situation.

Tuesday, March 31st: 1 to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 1st: 10 to 11 p.m.
Thursday, April 2nd: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Friday, April 3rd: 4 to 5 p.m.

The webinars are free, but you must RSVP: Online at cusbdc.org/events, call 217-378-8535, or email info@cusbdc.org.

Image from Facebook event page.

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MTD is still operating, but boarding has changed

MTD is continuing as an essential service during the stay-at-home order, with reduced service, but they will be boarding passengers differently to try to maintain social distancing as much as possible.

Passengers will be asked to board at the rear doors only, though if you use mobility devices, have mobility or vision impairments, are boarding with strollers, or have small children, you can continue to use the front door.

MTD is continuing to go "fare free" in order to eliminate any direct contact. They are also using larger buses and have backups ready in case capacity becomes an issue. 

You can read more about how they are keeping passengers and operators safe on their COVID-19 page

Image from MTD website.

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An update from Unit 4: Food and school supply distribution

Unit 4 has made a change in how they will distributing food to students who need it, in order to make the process more efficient: 

  • Drive thru distribution sites will be MONDAYS ONLY at Booker T. Washington, Garden Hills Academy and Jefferson Middle School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Home delivery will be on Fridays ONLY. You will be contacted the day before with delivery instructions. (Meals were distributed today for next week).

Each child 18 and younger will get a meal box containing five breakfasts and five lunches.

Beginning the first week of April, they will also be utilizing these time to distribute school supplies to students who need them.

This begins the first week of remote learning for Unit 4 students. Work that students are doing will not be graded, though they may receive feedback from teachers.

The district will be providing Chromebooks for middle and elementary school students that do not have access to a device at home (high school students were provided with Chromebooks at the beginning of the year). 

Middle school distribution will be Tuesday, March 31. Building principals will be in touch with more details. The date for Chromebook distribution at the elementary level will be announced soon. Students who will receive a Chromebook in this first phase will be contacted by their school. Once this is done, the District will then look at ways to address students with additional needs.

Photo from Champaign Unit 4 Schools website. 

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Eastern Illinois Foodbank is continuing to provide while we stay at home

Since getting food to those who need it is essential, Eastern Illinois Foodbank will continue to operate and get food to their partners. As with everything else, things are constantly changing, so they've set up an information page so people can stay up to date on how to help and find out about the status of their partner organizations. A few important details:

  • The EIF warehouse has shortened their hours a bit: Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • The best way to help right now is to donate. You can do that here.
  • Volunteering has to be limited now, there may be opportunities in the future. You can keep up with their needs here.
  • Many partner organizations are still operating and providing food, but others have had to close or change their hours. Their COVID Updates page lists many of these changes, but they encourage people to contact organizations beforehand to confirm hours and any restrictions. 

Photo from Eastern Illinois Foodbank Facebook page. 

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Takeout & A Toast for Champaign County is tonight

Since the hospitality industry is in a bit of a slump for obvious reasons, Visit Champaign County, You're Welcome CU, and ChambanaMoms are hosting this event tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Facebook. You can read more about it below via their press release, and head over to their Facebook event to stay up to date.

From the press release:

Virtual Community Dining and Toast to Celebrate Champaign County Hospitality

Champaign, IL – On Saturday, March 28, ChambanaMoms.com, You’re Welcome CU, and Visit Champaign County will host Takeout & A Toast for Champaign County virtually though Facebook. The event encourages locals to get takeout from their restaurant of choice, and participate in a virtual toast to the community at 6:30 p.m.

“While restaurants have closed their doors, and individuals remain in their homes as part of the stay-at-home order, the sense of community in the greater Champaign County area has only grown,” states Terri Reifsteck, Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement for Visit Champaign County. “The support for our hospitality and service industries has been overwhelming, so we wanted to bring the community together, virtually, to celebrate that.”

The event, which can be found on Facebook, will feature a live video between the three hosts, commenting on community collaboration and the ways local businesses have responded. Individuals are encouraged to engage in the conversation through the chat, share stories about their favorite businesses, as well as photos of their takeout. Throughout the event, there will be giveaways of local restaurant gift cards and community t-shirts.

“Whether it’s sharing resources and ideas, supporting small businesses, checking on a neighbor, or donating supplies, I’ve been so impressed by how Champaign County has come together during this time of need and uncertainty – and that’s something worth taking a moment to acknowledge,” says Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “We hope the community will join us on Saturday evening to share what’s inspired them.”

"Our mission is to build community among Champaign-Urbana area families, and that's what keeps us going daily. While we navigate through discomfort and uncertainty, one thing we are certain about is how much compassion and love exists among our community. We are so inspired by the way virtual events have made us feel connected in these times, " explains Laura Weisskopf Bleill, mom in chief, chambanamoms.com

Visit Champaign County is maintaining an extensive list of local restaurants offering delivery and curbside pickup for those interested in takeout found at visitchampaigncounty.org/covid.

Additionally, this page also includes information on local shops, attractions and events impacted by COVID-19.

For more information, contact Terri Reifsteck at 217-351-4133 or terrir@visitchampaigncounty.org.

Top photo from Visit Champaign County.

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Grainger College of Engineering has a ventilator prototype

The emergency ventilator is called RapidVent. From their Facebook post:

A team led by The Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health has produced a prototype emergency ventilator to help address the expected surge in the need for respiratory care associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator was developed in less than a week, and preliminary tests show performance equivalent to commercial devices. Additional tests are ongoing.
Learn more about the prototype at http://rapidvent.grainger.illinois.edu

“Our team is living the Apollo 13 movie,” said William King, the overall project leader. “We have dropped everything else to work around the clock to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We have a team of brilliant and dedicated people that made something that actually works in less than one week. It’s very inspiring. We hope that we can engage even more people to work on the global response to COVID-19 as we continue to develop the prototype.”

Image from Grainger College of Engineering Facebook page.

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You can sew masks to donate to Carle

One of the more troubling curveballs that COVID-19 has thrown our way is a severe shortage of masks, gloves, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) just when they are needed the most by healthcare professionals. The situation isn’t so dire on a local level, at least for now, and we can help keep it that way by practicing social distancing so as not to overwhelm hospitals with coronavirus cases. But there are other ways you may be able to help hospitals as well.

Carle, for example, is accepting donations of sewn masks to be used by non-clinicians who aren’t directly involved in providing patient care. If you have nimble fingers and a sewing machine and other supplies at hand you can make masks for Carle following the directions in the video below. Afterwards, just pack 25 masks in each sealed Ziploc bag, and schedule a pick-up by emailing makeamask@carle.com. You won't even have to leave your home to drop off the masks.

Top image screenshot from Carle's website.
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Two big recycling events for Champaign County have been cancelled

Both the Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Residential Electronics Collection that were scheduled this spring have been cancelled. 

The HHW collection scheduled for April 4th is now tentatively scheduled for April 2021:

Registrants same 15-minute time slot appointment will be reserved for the newly selected date, which is tentatively scheduled for April 2021. We realize this might be an inconvenience for some residents, and we appreciate the understanding during these unprecedented times. We ask that you please hold on to your items, so you can properly dispose of them during the next drop off opportunity!

The Residential Electronics Collection scheduled for May 16th has been cancelled. This event happens twice a year, and the next one will be October 10th, 2020, with registration opening on September 1st. To find recycling options available year-round, check the City of Champaign website

Photo from Keep Champaign Beautiful Facebook page.

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Channing-Murray Foundation and Red Herring are serving others with the Bucket Brigade

This week, we shared about Red Herring's Meal Club, a new option for ordering food and supporting a local business. They've also been busy collaborating with the Channing-Murray Foundation to help those in the community who are suffering most right now.

Through the Bucket Brigade, they are providing essential groceries and supplies, as well as some prepared meals to extremely low-income families identified by the staff at the Cunnigham Township Supervisor's Office. They working to expand to Champaign Township as well.

If you are interested in donating, you can do so at Red Herring's website. From Channing-Murray Executive Director Emily McKown:

Your contributions will be considered a part of a local movement, to provide aid, to be courageous, and to choose a spirit of generosity over scarcity.

We are a strong, resilient community. Channing-Murray has been C-U's home for social justice programming over many years, and now there is no better time to put our values into action!

Photo from Red Herring Facebook page.