SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Around the nation, parents are adjusting to having their little ones at home as COVID-19 forces schools to close their doors.
Here in Illinois, Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order has kids out of school until at least April 8th. While some may see it as a time to bond with family, other parents are still working; leaving them searching for solutions for their families. A group of parents in Springfield are working together to make sure those parents have the support they need.
When the governor announced schools would close earlier this month, Scott McFarland had an idea to help other families. “I saw on Facebook a lot of people were saying, ‘The schools are going to be closed. I have the ability to help with this or I’m looking for that.’ So I figured I would create a group just to share those ideas and get people talking to each other,” said McFarland.
The Facebook Group, “Springfield Families Helping Families,” was meant to help parents who were left without a plan to provide food and care for their children. Group administrators said the group is providing resources to others in ways they have never imagined.
“We have a group of 12 people and we have a messenger group chat, we have a spreadsheet and we just scour that page and one of us pick it up, put our names on it, see what they need and where they live and then we gray it out when it’s completed. It’s a pretty simple process,” said Lynn Ehmen, a group member who helps facilitate getting items to families.
Though it started as small group of concerned parents, it has now branched out as a tool to help over 9,000 people in Central Illinois. “If you look at the page, there’s a section called units and you can see all the different topics.” said Ehmen. “If you are looking for a job, or crafting supplies, or whatever, people are helping each other like crazy; it’s amazing.”
“There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there and we are just trying to keep it as manageable as possible and just helping people share ideas,” McFarland said.
Parents are also using the group to track down necessities as they become harder to find during the health crisis. Group leaders do manage the requests; looking out for any potential abuse from people looking to take advantage of the generosity of others.