Weeks into the shutdown caused by COVID-19, Philadelphians are practicing self-isolation to keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of the virus, leaving their homes only for essential activities. But what about people such as the elderly and those diagnosed with the virus who can’t leave their homes?
The need to step up and volunteer to help those individuals out has never been greater, Councilman Bobby Henon said.
Henon’s office has created a coalition of service-providing organizations including Caring for Friends and NESTco partners. They will launch a coordinated campaign to provide aid to those in need, such as those who cannot leave their homes.
“The infrastructure is here, we just need volunteers to add to that and grow,” Henon said.
Senior citizens and people living in clusters such as nursing homes are the most at risk of the virus. As of Thursday, 137 of the city’s 264 COVID-19-related fatalities were long-term care facility residents.
Henon said his office alone has responded to 10,000 phone calls form constituents in the 6th Councilmanic District since the shutdown began. Last week nearly 3,000 boxes of perishable and nonperishable food were sent out. This help wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers, Henon said.
“Our goal here is to let Philadelphia know we need help with volunteering,” Henon said.
NESTco partner organizations involved in the campaign include Feast of Justice, City Reach Church, Diaper Bank and ICNA Shams Clinic. Also present at the April 14 news conference were representatives from Fresh Grocer and Shooting Stars.
Caring for Friends has been delivering food to the homebound and food pantries from its Parkwood location for 22 years. In a typical year, 2 million pounds of food will pass through its center. Since the shutdown the organization has been delivering five to six times as much food as it normally does, said executive chairman Vince Schiavone.
Preparing this much food, packing it and driving it will require more helping hands.
“We need three things: food, volunteers and dollars,” Schiavone said.
Feast of Justice is serving 1,600 families a week through various programs, said Pastor Tricia Neale. Despite its increased efforts this still does not meet the need in the city, which only continues to increase, Neale said.
“Whether it’s your time or donations, whatever it may be, it is needed in this time,” she said.
Henon thanked those who have stepped up to volunteer.
“You are seeing humanity at its best,” he said.
The city, school district, local government and countless organizations have stepped up to help those in need during the crisis, including setting up meal pickup sites. The following school district sites are open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon to pick up three meals per child.
- Baldi, 8801 Verree Road
- Stephen Decatur, Academy Road
- Samuel Fels, 5500 Langdon St.
- A.L. FitzPatrick, 11061 Knights Road
- Frankford, 5000 Oxford Ave.
- Benjamin Franklin Elementary, 5737 Rising Sun Ave.
- Warren G. Harding, 2000 Wakeling St.
- Henry W. Lawton, 6101 Jackson St.
- Abraham Lincoln, 3201 Ryan Ave.
- William H. Loesche, 595 Tomlinson Road
- Mayfair, 3001 Princeton Ave.
- Northeast, 1601 Cottman Ave.
- William H. Ziegler, 5935 Saul St.
- Mastery Charter – Smedley, 1790 Bridge St.
- Universal Creighton Charter, 5401 Tabor Ave.
Families can also pick up food boxes Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the following locations:
- Pelbano Recreation Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave.
- Mitzvah Food Program (KleinLife), 10100 Jamison Ave.
- Palmer Recreation Center, 3035 Comly Road