COVID-19 Heroes: Chicago Teen Steps Up to Organize Grocery Runs and Emergency Fund for Hard-Hit Community

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Alycia Kamil is just 19 years old, but when the coronavirus pandemic made its way across the country she was quick to put a plan in place. Kamil, a young activist who is part of the youth-led anti-gun violence group GoodKids MadCity, pitched an idea to other young people in Chicago to go food shopping for low-income people affected by the virus.

To do that, Kamil put together two Google forms for people who were in need of help in the South and West side of Chicago and another for those willing to help out. Initially, the group was hoping to raise enough money to give about 30 families basic groceries to last a week. Instead, they raised between $7,000 and $8,000, she told The North Star.

After buying groceries for families in need, Kamil said the group decided to use the remaining money to create an emergency fund to give to about 20 people. She said the group focused on freelancers who have been particularly hard-hit by businesses shutting down during the pandemic.

Kamil told TNS that she knew she had to help her community during these difficult times. She said that elected officials should have taken the pandemic seriously and should have made sure money was available to those who needed it, but failed miserably.

“I think that with like my past and organizing and activism…it’s just always very present that like if we don’t do it for ourselves, it’s not going to be done,” she told TNS.

The young activist said when she drew inspiration from other groups doing similar projects when coming up with ways to help her community. “I was thinking about how a lot of people are already living in these food deserts so getting to grocery stores might be kind of difficult,” she said.

She noted that many people living in food deserts may not have cars and may be avoiding public transportation in fear of the virus.

“I think that I wanted to create a way where it was safest for people to get the resources that they needed and just the whole premise of, you know, if I was in a situation like that, I would want somebody to do it for me,” Kamil said. Thankfully, her initiative has taken off and has been getting loads of attention on social media.

Due to the coronavirus, Kamil and other volunteers with GoodKids MadCity are taking extra precautions when they deliver food donations, she told TNS. All volunteers wore gloves and masks during grocery deliveries and made sure to disinfect their cars, Kamil confirmed. She also stressed the importance of social distancing in order to flatten the curve of the virus.

“If we take this lockdown seriously now, if we take these precautions seriously now, we won’t have to be in this in the next few weeks,” she said. “Taking things seriously in the moment is key because if we think it’s bad now, imagine if we have to do it for another two months because people aren’t following orders.”

Similar initiatives have already taken place in other parts of the country, something that makes Kamil happy.

“I hope that with everything that I do and everything that I organize, I really hope that it pushes people to want to do initiatives similar or even the same thing,” Kamil said. “I just really hope that when people see all these young activists and young Black women and young organizers of color that they take the initiative to start something up.”

Coronavirus Affecting Black & Latinx People At Alarming Rates

New analysis shows that the novel coronavirus is infecting and killing Black Americans at alarmingly high rates, according to The Washington Post. Using available data and census demographics, the Post found that counties that are majority-Black have three times the rate of infections and nearly six times the rate of deaths when compared to counties with white majorities.

In Chicago, for example, Black people account for 67 percent of coronavirus-related deaths despite making up just 32 percent of the entire population. Similar numbers were recorded in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and in the state of Louisiana.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, confirmed on April 10 that data supports that analysis. “In our COVID-19 data, we see alarmingly high rates of COVID-19 in the Black population,” Ezike said. “This disparity is true, both for cases and in deaths. Overall mortality rates among Blacks are five times higher than whites.”

The Washington Post’s analysis showed that in Michigan, African Americans account for 33 percent of cases and about 40 percent of deaths despite only accounting for 14 percent of the total population. The newspaper noted that more than a quarter of the state’s 845 reported deaths occurred in Detroit, which has a 79 percent Black population.

That same disparity has been seen in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Preliminary data released by New York City on April 8 showed the virus is killing Black and Latinx people in the city at twice the rate it’s killing white people. As of April 10, Johns Hopkins University has recorded 5,820 deaths in New York City alone.

Mayor Bill de Blasio attributed the disparity to long standing economic inequalities and unequal access to healthcare, The New York Times reported.

“There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city,” the mayor said. “The truth is that in so many ways the negative effects of coronavirus—the pain it’s causing, the death it’s causing—tracks with other profound health care disparities that we have seen for years and decades.”

According to The Times, the preliminary death rate for Hispanics in the city is at around 22 people per 100,000 and the rate for Black people is at 20 per 100,000. The death rate for white people, meanwhile, is at around 10 per 100,000.

How to Help

Kamil told TNS that GoodKids MadCity will continue raising funds to give emergency funds to those who need it. The group is accepting donations via CashApp ($GoodKidsMadCity) and via Venmo (@GoodKids-MadCity). She added that people in need are also welcome to reach out to her via social media.


At the end of each story we publish about the coronavirus, we are now sharing the following information:

Coronavirus 411

Coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2 but also known as COVID-19, is a novel virus that causes a number of respiratory illnesses, including lung lesions and pneumonia. The virus spreads easily from person to person through the air when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes.

COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 185 countries. More than 1.61 million people around the world have become infected and more than 97,000 people have died. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency on March 13. Less than two weeks later, on March 26, the United States surpassed China in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can take between two to 14 days to appear. The CDC recommends calling your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you also experience persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately.

In order to keep yourself and others safe, be sure to wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid touching your face. The CDC is recommending that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled for the next eight weeks. Click here for information on how to prepare for a quarantine.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.