A group in Elgin is in search of new ways to promote early literacy and share more information with Latino families regarding participation in the 2020 Census during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Specifically, the Elgin Partnership for Early Learning or EPEL and its community partners, on Thursday, distributed 250 boxes of food, around 2,000 diapers, and hundreds of literacy materials and children's books during a drive-through event. 

Other organizations co-sponsoring the event include the Illinois Census Office, Elgin Township, the Illinois Latino Caucus Foundation, and the Northern Illinois Food Bank mobile pantry. 

EPEL executive director, Amber Peters said, there was indeed, a need to change focus "pretty quickly and in some ways" have become "a social service organization for a bit."

Amber added they know that if the essential needs of the family are not addressed, reading then, becomes not at the top of the list of priorities.

Milk for the Hard-to-Count Communities

Latino community leaders, as well as the elected officials also helped in providing the 2020 Census information. They also assisted hundreds of Latino households during the drive-through food distribution event in downtown Elgin.

EPEL board member, Karina Nava said, the Latino families they assisted are whom they consider "the hard-to-count communities." In addition, Nava said, officials plan of doing more census outreach during the distribution of boxes of milk, diapers, books, and food in the future.

For the completion of census online, the Elgin organization and its co-sponsors, one can visit 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 for either Spanish or English assistance.

The Drive-Through Event

The main objective of this drive-through event is to help financially-challenged individuals in this time of the pandemic. Specifically, as indicated in the news release about the event, the giveaway was set to start at 4:30, at a parking lot located on "the southwest corner North Grove Avenue and Kimball Street."

The information released to media also added, the event would push through-rain or shine, and the items would be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As indicated in the information shared to media, attendees would then, instructed to stay inside their vehicles and no proof of identification or documentation is needed to give the supplies.

The mobile food pantry of the Northern Illinois Food Bank distributed around 250 food boxes, well enough to feed around 1,000 individuals. Meanwhile, diapers were financed with a "COVID-19 response grant" and would be handed out as long as there supplies available.

Among the 400 books distributed, some were recycled by the Gail Borden Public Library. Others, on the other hand, were paid for, "with First Book grant" that was awarded to EPEL for the benefit of children who come from low-income households.

Part of the drive-through plan was that both the local and state representatives would talk to people who are waiting inside their vehicle, the 2020 Census.

They would also talk about the essentiality of finishing the federal questionnaire to make sure the area is receiving the maximum the government funding can allot for them.

Based on the most recent data, over 67 percent of residents of Elgin has taken part in the count, which is more than the response rate of 65 percent of the state.

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