Community Foundation of Jackson County disaster recovery fund supports healthy family activities

Jackson County families face new and continuing challenges because of COVID-19. Food insecurity, unemployment and other stresses mean there are many opportunities to help families through this difficult time. That’s why the Community Foundation of Jackson County and its Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative are providing families with healthy activities to enjoy together as the pandemic continues.

The Community Foundation is supporting the Jackson County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s participation in two drive-through resource fairs with a grant from its disaster recovery fund. The grant enables the Campaign to provide 150 activity bags for children in three different age groups.

The activity bags are being distributed at drive-through resource fairs in Maquoketa and Bellevue this summer, and potentially one more site, where families will receive a hot meal to-go and supplies like snacks, personal hygiene and health items, recipes, activity kits, and a variety of informational materials from service agencies. Bags for young children include a book, bubbles, balls, finger puppets and a handout with play ideas for those items; older children will receive a book, frisbee, journal, dice and instructions for dice games. 

In spite of additional stressors from the pandemic, family-centered service agencies in the area are seeing low numbers of referrals. At the same time, the Bellevue Police Department has reported an uptick in domestic calls. These two indicators suggest that families need support but are not connecting with services. Many local service agencies partnered to plan the drive-through fairs, hoping to reach clients and provide support in a unique way. 

While the Campaign continues to promote reading, it also takes a holistic approach to childhood growth and development. “The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which informs our work, recognizes outside forces impact how kids fare in school,” explained Joanne Evans, Jackson County Campaign coordinator. “We have learned from other reading programs across the state that providing families with activities promotes healthy development and academic success by lessening stress and offering new ways to strengthen parent-child bonds.” 

The next resource fair will be held in Bellevue on July 16 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Bellevue Community High School parking lot. 

“In addition to supporting the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Community Foundation is supporting families through disaster relief grants to projects that have expanded food distribution and emergency funding programs, implemented social distancing practices at a daycare, and fostered summer learning at home,” said Mary Jo Gothard, the Community Foundation’s executive director.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County is one of five affiliate foundations with disaster response funds through the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. Disaster preparedness is just one of the many ways that community foundations take the long view for their communities, often serving as philanthropic centers for recovery because of their unique ability to bring together representatives of many different areas as well as their capacity to distribute funds from donors. 

To help support Jackson County families impacted by COVID-19, visit or contact Mary Jo Gothard at 563.588.2700 or