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#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Jake Draluck

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Creating positivity in the Middle of a Pandemic by Jake Draluck

Prior to the pandemic, probably like most of you, I was keeping up an intense schedule which will sound familiar: classes, sports, clubs, friends and a ton of homework. Then the pandemic hit in March 2020, my school abruptly closed its doors, and I was unexpectedly stuck at home with tons of free time and nothing particularly relevant to do. With the TV on all the time in my kitchen, I heard Governor Pritzker mandate that face coverings be worn in all public places, and I began to wonder how everyone in the Chicago area would be able to get masks when, back in May, they had become so difficult to find at any price?

As I researched this topic, I confirmed that Illinois’ mask order did not provide any funding for people who could not afford or obtain masks on their own. Because my Dad is a doctor and we had access to masks early on, I contacted some of the local food pantries to see if I could be helpful in getting masks to their clients. In my conversations with these organizations, I learned that not only was the lack of access to masks causing anxiety for pantry clients, but that pandemic-related unemployment had created a large demand for other basic hygiene products—items like deodorant, razors, toothpaste, and other necessities were often overlooked by donors, even though these essential items had become impossibly expensive for those who had lost their jobs. 

When I learned that hygiene products, including masks, cannot be purchased with SNAP Cards or through any other government assistance programs, and that so few people are aware of this problem, I created a nonprofit organization called We Got You to try to become part of the solution. So far We Got You has donated over 6500 hygiene products, hygiene kits and laundry kits to people in our Chicago area community who have been struggling to afford them, and we have partnered with several social impact organizations to help us get these items distributed to those in need. 

Please visit us at www.wegotyoualways.org to learn more about our mission to see how you can help! If you like our message and are looking for an easy way to be involved, please consider hosting a hygiene product drive at your school or synagogue or youth group—we would be happy to pick up any donations that you have, and we accept any size items—from travel size to full size. If you know how to make masks, please consider donating homemade masks to us for distribution with our other supplies!

If you have your own idea for a project, I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. When in doubt, my advice is to start small, start local, and work your way up from there. Any amount of positive change you can make in the world will help someone, somewhere, and is worth making!

Jake Draluck

Jake is a junior at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where he is a member of the Boys Crew Team, Exeter Jewish Community (EJC), Investment Club, Economics Club, and Exeter Student Service Organization, among other clubs, and serves as a Proctor for the Exeter Film Department. In Chicago, Jake is a rowing instructor at the Alliance Rowing Club of Chicago, and is a Diller Teen Fellow (2018-2019 Cohort). He is also the founder and President of Deadstock Chicago, a sneaker and streetwear resale company.  

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