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COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves Nonprofits In Need In Holiday Season

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The world may be in for a COVID Christmas, but there is no skipping presents in a pandemic, and nonprofits are especially in need. Some Chicago charities are making major changes this season.

Sharing the touching stories of patients and their families is not a new tactic for the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Foundation, but Senior Gift Officer Aaron Conn needs to tug especially hard at heartstrings this year.

"We didn't see a huge decrease in terms of fundraising, but we did see an increase in need," Conn said.

The foundation's upcoming fundraiser Radiothon will be missing its huge phone bank that usually hypes up listeners.

"A lot of our volunteers are going to be doing now virtual cheering sessions for people that are donating," he said. 

Conn said they have been preparing for this holiday season since early April.

"We started to have in our minds, what if this goes into the Christmas season?" he said.

The Radiothon will be held on Dec. 17. It airs on 93.9 Lite FM and Rock 95.5.

The organization's Step Up For Kids fundraiser in January has also gone virtual due to COVID-19.

The Salvation Army is another charity forced to change its biggest fundraiser -- the Red Kettle Campaign.

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"Ringing the bell in 2020 will be a little different," said Major Caleb Senn.

Mobile pay was introduced in 2019. Donations are expected to be down as much as half, but normally 70% of fundraising dollars come from the Red Kettle Campaign.

"This is a very safe way to give," Senn said.

This year is all about promoting the touchless option using newly designed signs.

"So when a donor passes a red kettle, they see that QR code front and center," Senn said. "So they've got their phone, take a quick picture, it brings you right to our giving site."

At Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana there are no more surprise donations.

"So many of our children have immune system vulnerabilities," said Ruth-Anne Renaud.

Cleaning supplies and food -- not books or toys -- are on their Amazon wish list.

"Our number one need is catered meals and gift cards related to that," she said.

That's because volunteers normally prep food, but that service is cancelled until further notice.

"We have always welcomed the generosity of the community" Renaud said.

It just look different this year, like most other things.

Tuesday is also the CBS Chicago Cares annual Day of Giving. CBS 2 has teamed up with the American Red Cross to bring you stories of hope.

The following are links where you can find ways to give to each organization:


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