Volunteerism still needed

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mills: ‘Great place to serve, great place to help’

Communities standing together during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak are essential to beating the unforeseen consequences of the event.

At this time, many families are left without paychecks, or limited income, people at risk are isolated from the public, and being there for each other can show immense strength.

In the bi-county area, residents are coming together — separately — during these uncertain times.

In Monett, a small group of volunteers are helping to keep the community safe and decrease the spreading of the coronavirus.

Mae Kennedy, one of the four administrators of the Monett, Mo Coronavirus Help group, said they are offering service like grocery shopping for those at the highest risk.

“The main goal of the Facebook group is to share information with people about what is available in the stores,” she said. “Also, we are posting about what people need when we go shopping for them.”

The main goal is to make sure that the elderly, sick and families with small children are staying safe.

“The virus is targeting the elderly and the sick, but we want to protect the children as well,” she said. “We get a list, do the shopping and then deliver the supplies to the homes of the people who need it.

“We have also set up distribution systems where people can come curbside to get the supplies they need.”

The service is free to use, people only pay for what they need.

“There are just a few of us at this time, four of us, that go out to shop and some others to manage the Facebook group,” she said. “When someone wants to help volunteer, we talk amongst the administrators to determine where their services can best be used.”

The best way for people to inquire about volunteering is by messaging the Facebook group at Monett, Mo Coronavirus Help and be specific about the interests in volunteering.

“Keeping people in their homes is where social distancing is at its best,” Kennedy said. “Safety of the community and people is our highest priority.”

The group would also like to thank the Cassville, Purdy, Monett and Pierce City Dollar Generals for working with the shoppers to make sure they have the supplies they need.

“We do not take more than what is allowed per person,” she said. “But, they have set aside packages for us to make sure these people are getting what they need.”

A phone number is also in place for people who do not have internet or Facebook. People can reach Galen Hall at 417-489-3286.

Gene Robinson, Pastor of Body of Christ Church in Wheaton, said the church’s pantry is still running and serving people every other Thursday, and is need of more volunteers as well.

“There isn’t a whole lot more we can do while complying with the 10-people-or-less regulation,” he said. “But, we can still offer church services to our community.

“The last two Sundays, we have had a church service in the parking lot so that people can stay in their vehicles and stay safe,” he said. “We will continue as long as needed and we will do an Easter sunrise service in the parking lot too if it is needed.”

According to a press release from Senior Age, Area Agency on Aging, seniors who previously were receiving home-delivered meals have continued receiving their meals without interruption. Seniors 60 and over who generally dine in at their local senior center are now able to drive thru and pick up their meal at their nearest center.

Additionally, individuals 60-and-over who might not be frequent diners but find themselves in need of a nutritious meal can also get one to go.

SeniorAge has been checking in on seniors via telephone reassurance calls, ensuring they are in good health, have adequate supplies for the week, and are combating the isolation struggles they might be facing.

Through social media and a newly launched text alert program, the agency also provides constant updates on the coronavirus outbreak and ways to stay active while isolating at home.

Seniors are encouraged to reach out to their local senior center or call 417-862-0762 for meals, support and reassurance during this time.

Social distancing and coronavirus precautions have created shortage in blood donations.

Tyler Tharp, American Red Cross biomedical account manager, schedules all blood drives in the area.

“We are taking precautions and safety is key now more than ever for everyone involved,” he said. “We have lost more than 250,000 units of blood in recent weeks due to the pandemic, and nearly half of our drives have been canceled due to schools being closed.”

So, the Red Cross has implemented steps to help comply to the coronavirus requirements for social distancing and group gatherings.

“People are starting to realize that we have to keep collecting blood no matter what,” he said. “If there is no blood, there are no surgeries and no help for emergency situations.”

Sanitation efforts have been increased due to the concern surrounding the coronavirus spread.

“One of the main things is to continue to practice social distancing, so we have spread everything out to comply with that, even the beds,” he said. “Another thing we are stressing is to push people to go online and make an appointment rather than walk in.”

People can go online to redcrossblood.org and type their zip codes in the search box to pull up drives in their area.

“Another big thing that we are doing is checking the temperature of every individual before they enter the drive,” Tharp said. “If it is 99.5 or higher, they are asked to leave. That’s not because we assume they have coronavirus, but just to ensure the safety of everyone.”

Some things that are helping in the need to collect blood is that President Donald Trump, as well as, the FDA, CDC, FEMA and Health and Human Services are all backing the statement that it is safe to donate blood.

“We are adapting daily to make sure we keep everyone safe,” Tharp said. “It is also a huge benefit for people to make appointments so that we can be safe, efficient and know how much supplies we need.”

Making a push for the younger generation and people at lower risk of coronavirus to donate will be a major part to coming back from this blood shortage.

“This blood crisis will go on for months,” Tharp said. “We will need to constantly see new donors.”

The blood drive scheduled for Monday at Cassville Crowder Campus was rescheduled to April 6. People are urged to reschedule if they made appointments. For more blood drive dates and locations, people can search their zip codes at redcrossblood.com.

The Cassville United Methodist Church food pantry is continuing to serve the public with curbside delivery.

Janet Mills, the church food pantry director, said the church is committed to provide food for people in need.

“The food pantry is open weekdays from 9-11:15 a.m.,” she said. “We are actively seeking volunteers that are not in the at-risk category.”

Mills said since the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of the volunteers, who were in the at-risk category, have had to step out.

“Right now, we are struggling to cover each day,” she said. “We are conforming to the social distancing and small group regulations, but we need people.”

Mills said she is reaching out to people who may be home due to being off work during this time.

“We are looking for some young people who can lift 30 pounds,” she said. “But, we have a need for people in other positions as well, like food sorting. This is a great place to serve and a great place to help your community.”

Mills said it is essential to the pantry’s survival to get new volunteers to help.

“We want to continue for as long as we can,” Mills said. “People can call the church at 417-847-2328.”

Another church is reaching out to the community to offer a different service — parking lot church.

Gail Reed, Barry County Neighborhood Center supervisor, said her staff is working to get something into place to help match volunteers with homebound families and individuals.

“We want to pair up volunteers who can do grocery shopping and run errand for others,” she said. “We will pair up the volunteer and homebound individuals based on what area they are in.”

Reed said she plans to offer this to Barry County residents as needed.

To inquire about volunteering and to receive services people my call the office at 417-847-2140.

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