CI Hero: McLean County woman spearheads donation drive, helps distribute 8,500 items across 13 long-term care facilities during COVID-19

CI Heroes

MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — Live on the radio waves, Great Plains Media called on listeners to donate items like baby dolls, sunscreen, hats and more, to the area’s most vulnerable population.

The idea for the Support Our Seniors campaign was the brainchild of Melissa Kwit.

“Once we explained to people exactly what we needed…we started getting everything in,” said radio personality Chris Murphy. “I think a lot of people felt that they had a resident in a nursing home and everyone knew someone what was there and wanted to help.”

“My dad was in a nursing home for a long time,” said Melissa Kwit, CI Hero. “I knew what those weekly visits mean to each of us…and I just couldn’t imagine not seeing him every week.”

As pandemic restrictions kept people apart, she brought thoughtful items to them instead with the help of radio personalities in town.

“Bloomington-Normal doesn’t surprise me with what they rally around,” said Murphy. “They’re such great people here, I mean they really do take causes up and they really do help out.”

“Just overwhelming generous, and it was never about me,” said Kwit. “It was about what can we do for people, especially as seniors tend to be forgotten.”

The relaxation of visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities has since ended the six-month campaign; however, Kwit encourages central Illinoisans to consider donating another way.

[Nursing homes] are still looking for volunteers. So going and helping, holding someone’s hand, sitting and talking with them. There are ongoing things at the nursing homes, donate your time, or write letters.

melissa kwit, ci hero

In all, central Illinoisans provided more than 8,500 items for donations, which were dispersed across 13 long-term care facilities in the area.

Through this submission form, you can nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero.

The above photos were provided by Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center.

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