Naperville Helps! assists local businesses, healthcare workers during pandemic


Courtesy of Colin Dalough

Nurses at a Warrenville drive-thru testing site receive snack donations from Naperville Helps! in March 2020.

Jeremy Zhao, Copy Editor & Community Editor

The Downtown Naperville Alliance and Naperville Chamber of Commerce partnered for the third year in a row to launch the Naperville Helps! campaign to help local businesses and frontline workers. 

The campaign which started in March 2020 to support police, firemen and healthcare workers relaunched early 2022 to aid frontline workers at Edward Hospital dealing with the COVID-19 Omicron surge. Naperville Helps! raised $100,000 in the previous two years. 

“We knew that hospital staff were struggling with the surge of COVID cases,” said Danielle Tufano, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance. “We knew that we wanted to do something to give back.” 

Naperville Helps! receives donations through a GoFundMe page on their website. From there, the money is funneled to Naperville restaurants to provide packages of snacks for frontline healthcare workers. Benefitting these local businesses was an added bonus, Tufano said.

“We’re calling it a win, win, win,” she said. “People can feel good about making a difference, we can send some love to our local restaurants and then obviously help support our hospital staff.” 

After Tufano reached out to Naperville businesses, around a dozen Naperville restaurants showed interest in participating. 

Based on feedback from Edward, Naperville Helps! provides small snacks rather than large meals. The campaign will focus on items such as “cookies or popcorn or small sandwiches,” Tufano said. 

The donations will be given to all Edward staff members, including those not directly interacting with patients. 

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that every worker at Edward Hospital feels special,” said Colin Dalough, manager of Community and Government Relations for Edward-Elmhurst Health. “It’s a reminder that they’re appreciated by the community.” 

For Dalough, the campaign couldn’t have come at a better time. Recently, hospital facilities and employees have been strained. 

“That’s nurses, that’s doctors, but it’s also our food service staff and patient transport,” Dalough said. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and fall, healthcare workers are depending on the contributions of the community. 

“This is a really easy way for people to engage and make a difference from the comfort of their own home to these healthcare workers who’re keeping the community healthy,” Tufano said. “I think it’s wonderful.”