© 2023 NPR Illinois
Stand with the Facts
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Click here to be "In the know." Subscribe to the NPR Illinois Daily newsletter.

Facebook Group Unites Springfield Online During COVID-19 Isolation

Creative Commons: Chris He, 2009

As Illinoisans continue to practice self-isolation, a Springfield Facebook group is bringing the community together online.

Since residents have been ordered to stay home as much as possible for the near term, communication across Illinois has shifted communication to online social media platforms.

Springfield District 186 school board member Scott McFarland said he noticed community members asking for help online, as well as others that were willing to pitch in. So, he created a group on Facebook to help them connect easier.

“I decided that we needed to have some kind of coordinated effort to get those folks talking to each other,” McFarland said.

The Facebook group is called Springfield Families Helping Families – it currently has over 9,000 members who post regular updates.

Members can either request assistance — say, with buying food and toilet paper — or they can volunteer to help other Springfield residents.

“This just goes to show, and this can happen in any community big or small around the country, that when the times are tough, people will step up,” McFarland said.

One of the unique features of the group is its organization of topics. Its content is divided several categories, called units, to help members find exactly what they’re looking for. Unit 1, for example, contains useful information.

Unit 2 contains a list of things community members need help with or need help finding, while Unit 4 contains a list of opportunities for volunteerism. Another unit even contains donations for items such as diapers, VHS movies, clothes and more.

“I have a great team of a few folks who volunteered, who are helping to moderate the group, adding people that ask to be added and going through the posts,” McFarland said.

“We’re just trying to keep things organized and keep true communication between needs and offers of assistance.”

Mike Smith is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
Related Stories