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County joins national effort to recognize frontline workers at Southland vaccination sites
Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Daily Southtown
Frontline workers including Illinois National Guard members helping to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in the Southland received a token of thanks this week during a Morning of Gratitude effort.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other community leaders dropped off “pick-me-up” bags the morning of Wednesday, March 31, for workers distributing vaccines at South Suburban College in South Holland.
“We’re deeply indebted to the good people who are distributing our vaccinations,” Preckwinkle said.
The bags included a variety of nourishing items, including treats from Mars Wrigley, KIND snack bars, RISE nitro cold-brew coffee and oatmeal cups from Purely Elizabeth. All of the items were donated through the Frontline Impact Project, a national effort to get companies to support workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic as a thank you for their work. Since April 2020, the project has offered support to more than 1.3 million front line workers, including 35,000 in Illinois, according to a news release from the county.
Pfc. Landon Luangsomkham was among those present March 31 for the praise and gifts. Luangsomkham has been doing 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts at the site over the past month.
“It’s really nice,” he said of the support. “It’s amazing.”
Luangsomkham said the National Guard members take pride in running a site smoothly and efficiently. People have been compliant with the procedures and are contributing to the good feeling inside of the campus Physical Fitness and Athletic Center, where vaccinations are taking place, Luangsomkham said.
“It’s actually been really nice, a really positive atmosphere in there,” he said. “I’m just happy to be part of this.”
Preckwinkle said the volume of vaccinations Cook County is coordinating would not be possible without the help.
“We couldn’t do it, something of this magnitude, without the National Guard,” Preckwinkle said. “South Suburban College stepped up early on to offer the site. We’re extremely grateful.”
Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller said there has been a huge uptick in vaccinations in the area. And the reviews for the National Guard’s work have been incredible.
“We’ve heard nothing but positives,” she said. “This really helps the community.”
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said South Holland Mayor Don De Graff.
The distribution of the bags was done in partnership with the Illinois USO. Following the South Holland visit, the group planned to drop gift bags at vaccination sites in Lansing, Blue Island, Ford Heights, Tinley Park and Robbins. Nearly 28,000 items were given to workers across Cook County’s suburban vaccination sites, and more donations are planned for April and May.
The day before her South Suburban College visit, Miller joined U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly for a vaccine pop-up clinic in Chicago Heights that saw about 1,200 residents receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot. The event was organized by Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez’s office and Jewel-Osco. It was held in the former St. Kieran School gymnasium, and second doses of the vaccine are to be administered there April 20. The city and Bloom Township recruited residents in eligible phases to fill the available spots for the pop-up clinic.
Miller said efforts like these across the Southland are helping to mitigate COVID-19 concerns and keep residents healthy. But she cautioned that people must continue wearing masks and social distancing throughout the process.
“It’s definitely turning a corner, but we still need to remain vigilant,” she said.
Bill Jones is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.