CHICAGO (CBS) — COVID-19 might be in retreat, but thousands of Chicagoans are still hurting from its economic wreckage.

A Portage Park woman championed a plan to help people in need during these tough times but now she says donations are drying up.

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She tells Morning Insider Tim McNicholas why the need is still strong.

A local musician, a marketing manager in Portage Park, and a couple volunteers; you might wonder what brought this group together. The answer is toilet paper.

“Let’s just face it, you can’t really go a day without toilet paper” Jaclyn Crawford said.

The story starts back in spring 2020, when toilet paper flew off the shelves in a wave of uncertainty. Crawford decided to set up a box on her front lawn filled with free rolls, no questions asked.

“I try to stock it once a day,” she said.

She even added soap and other hygiene products.

“I’m not a non-profit, I’m not an organization, I’m just one person doing something for my community; and it’s caught on so well, and people are excited about it,” she said.

The song remained the same even after stores restocked. With so many people out of work, the need for donations persisted.

Soon, she even had volunteers delivering to people who couldn’t get to her Portage Park Treasure Box.

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“Provide a service to the community really,” said volunteer Brian Budd.

“It’s been great connecting with people,” said fellow volunteer Patti Vasquez.

Over the past couple months donations have slowed down, Crawford said. So she started brainstorming, and came up with a plan to recharge her efforts.

That plan includes Brandon Good performing his first concert with a live audience since 2020.

The price of admission? A roll of toilet paper or paper towels.

“We’re calling it Rock For Rolls,” Crawford said. “A really big community effort. We have a fantastic musician, who I’m really excited to see play, and just a lot of people getting together in a neighborhood I love a lot.”

Her goal is not to just to pick her up her own tempo, but to help others launch their own treasure boxes, even after the pandemic.

“My dream is to have a treasure box probably on every corner,” Crawford said.

Like a timeless song, it’s a gift that could last decades.

The concert will be Saturday, June 12, at noon at the Perkolator coffee shop at 6032 W. Irving Park Rd.

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If you’d like to donate to the Portage Park Treasure Box, they’ve set up a wish list on Amazon. 

Tim McNicholas