Provided by Pilsen Food Pantry

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Over the past few months, hundreds of immigrants seeking asylum have been bussed from Texas to welcoming cities like New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago under misleading circumstances, in what many Democrats have described as a political stunt by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other Republicans. Many of the passengers are Venezuelans fleeing poverty and political instability.

Abbott has stated that he will continue to send migrants to welcoming cities until the Biden administration secures the southern border and acknowledges the “historic crisis” Texas is facing. In Chicago, the Welcoming City Ordinance guarantees the City will not inquire about immigration status, share that information with authorities or deny services based on immigration status. 

As of October 15, over 3,667 asylum-seekers have arrived by bus to Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has promised to assist them in accessing essential services. Several legal organizations in Chicago are working to help immigrants apply for asylum, since they must wait six months after submitting their application before they can legally work in the United States. In the meantime, food, clothing and legal services are needed. 

Below are several organizations and community groups working to distribute these services, many of which are on the South Side. Here’s how to help and get help for someone that may need it. 

Cook County Health

Cook County Health provides care for over 300,000 patients annually, forty-five percent of which are uninsured. Right now, the organization is helping recent asylum seekers meet their immediate needs. They are seeking donations of any size so that they can purchase clothing, personal hygiene products, and baby and school supplies. 

Visit cchealthfoundation.org. Call (847) 818-2860

Community Health

Community Health provides primary care and specialty care, medication, lab testing, mental health services and health education at no cost to low-income and uninsured adults. Over 1,000 people volunteer every year, making it one of the largest volunteer-based health care centers in the country. At the moment they are seeking primary or specialty care providers for evenings and weekends. Community Health is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and donations fund over ninety-five percent of their operations.

Multiple locations and hours. Visit communityhealth.org. Call (773) 395-9900. 

City of Chicago

A number of Chicago alderpersons have opened their offices for drop-off donations. Food and used items are not accepted at the moment. A list of acceptable donations and drop-off locations can be found below. The City of Chicago is also connecting people interested in volunteering with appropriate organizations through their webpage: chicago.gov/city/en/sites/texas-new-arrivals/home.html.

Pilsen Food Pantry

The Pilsen Food Pantry supplies healthy and culturally appropriate food and clothes from their food pantry and clothes closet. They are currently seeking bags of rice, cooking oil, instant coffee, menstrual products, hygiene items, baby supplies and dry pet food. They also have volunteer opportunities including pantry shopping, delivery, unpacking and food rescue (the collection of food that would otherwise go to waste at food-selling venues), as well as clothes sorting for the clothes closet. 

1850 S. Throop Street. Chicago, IL 60608. Visit figueroawufamilyfoundation.com, email pilsenfoodpantry.info@gmail.com or call (773) 812-3150. To sign up for an available shift, visit volunteer-pilsenfoodpantry.as.me. Donations can be dropped off 10:30 am–1 pm on Sunday and 9:30 am–2:30 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Instituto del Progreso Latino

The Instituto del Progreso Latino (IDL) is an organization that assists Latinx immigrants in accessing education, training and employment. IDL is seeking contributions to their Texas Immigrant Rapid Response Wishlist to support the basic needs of newly arrived families. The organization is seeking volunteers to assist with job readiness and digital literacy, as well as attorneys and third-year law students. There are additional opportunities for high school and college students. 

Visit www.institutochicago.org. Call (773) 890-0055

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is an organization aimed at supporting immigrants and refugees in their integration into daily life. Founded in 1986, ICIRR has helped more than 100,000 immigrants apply for citizenship, has succeeded in advocating for numerous pro-immigrant bills, and led the charge for expanded healthcare options for immigrants in Illinois. Volunteers can register new U.S. citizens to vote after oath ceremonies. Immigrants can learn more about the citizenship process by contacting Marilu Moreno at mmoreno@icirr.org.

Email volunteer@icirr.org. Visit https://www.icirr.org/volunteer 

Erie Neighborhood House

The Erie Neighborhood House has provided social services to meet the complex needs of immigrant and low-income communities since its opening in 1870. The organization, which operates several centers across the city, offers youth programming, mental health resources, adult education and training, and legal services. The Erie Neighborhood House has volunteer opportunities to work with children, youth and adults as a homework helper, mentor, health promoter, and more. 

Multiple locations and hours. Visit eriehouse.org. Email volunteer@eriehouse.org

Southwest Collective

The Southwest Collective encompasses groups on the Southwest Side of Chicago tackling food equity and distributing baby supplies to young families. The group is currently seeking support through donations and volunteers for their events. Southwest Collective hosts monthly Freebies for Families where parents can donate or receive gently used baby items. The next Freebies for Families will be held on November 19 from noon to 2pm. The location will be announced closer to the event.

Visit www.swcollective.org/support. Call (708) 740-8914

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

The Brighton Park Neighborhood Council is a grassroots organization that provides school and community based services to address issues such as economic justice, immigrant justice, and economic justice. Their immigrant welcome center provides families with a case manager to assist with accessing financial services, education, job opportunities and legal services. 

4477 S. Archer Ave. Open 9am–5pm Monday–Friday. Visit bpncchicago.org/volunteers. Email communications@bpncchicago.org. Call (773) 523-7110​

Centro Romero

Centro Romero is a community organization serving immigrant and refugee families on the Northeast Side of Chicago. They provide youth services, adult education, legal services and family programming to help families acclimate to the city and improve their opportunities for upward mobility. The center is looking for donations and volunteers to assist with their programming. 
6126 N. Clark St. Open 9am–5pm Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm Saturday. Email info@centroromero.org. Call (773) 508-5300

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Ella Beiser is a lifelong Hyde Parker and is currently a sophomore at Bates College studying politics and digital and computational studies. In her free time she enjoys writing for her school newspaper and sharing music with friends.

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