As COVID-19 spreads, here’s how people are stepping up to help

Don Bosco staff hand out meals in the front lobby of the senior center.

By Barbara Shelly
TheBeacon

As stores and restaurants shut down and workers head home to socially isolate themselves and their families, people in Missouri and Kansas continue to look outward. They are finding ways to help others — even as needs among the elderly, homeless and most vulnerable grow more severe.

Social media sites are filled with offers to run errands and even pay for groceries for neighbors in need.

Kenzie Borland, a Wichita State University student who lives with her grandparents, said she understands why the elderly and immunocompromised, who are more at risk for COVID-19, can’t leave home right now. After posting on a neighborhood Facebook group, several people said they intended to take her up on the offer. 

“We all have to step it up for our loved ones,” said Borland, who is also volunteering this week for the local Meals on Wheels. 

The Rieger, a restaurant in downtown Kansas City, shut down normal operations on Monday and announced it was converting to a community kitchen for the foreseeable future.

The staff will prepare take out meals, which will be served on a pay-as-you’re-able basis from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, said Whitney Coleman, the maître d’. Money that is donated will be used to pay the restaurant’s hourly staff and keep the community kitchen operating, she said. The Reiger will donate anything extra to charity, and it is also collecting canned goods and sanitary supplies to hand out to people in need.

A Don Bosco staff bags up meals for area seniors. The senior center has closed it’s doors to events but is still operating their meal service.

The restaurant announced the community kitchen Monday afternoon on its Facebook page, and served 22 meals a couple of hours later, Coleman said. And people started dropping by to donate items on Tuesday.  

“We are making the best of things,” Coleman said.

In that spirit, others shared tips on how to help while staying home.

  • Fostering a pet while shelters are closed to the public and operating with reduced staff. Cats and dogs are also a great antidote against loneliness.
  • Go online and purchase gift cards from local businesses. “For these small businesses it’s their only income,” said Katie Mabry Van Dieren, who runs Strawberry Swing indie craft fairs in Kansas City. “They’re really scared and nervous about the future. Just a little from each of us is super helpful.”
  • If your own family income is not disrupted, keep paying fees for services such as children’s music lessons. It may help studios and independent contractors stay in business.

A major way people can assist is with cash and other donations to the groups that specialize in helping people in normal times.

Kar Woo assists homeless, mentally ill and substance-impaired individuals through his nonprofit, Artists Helping the Homeless. Among other roles, he works with hospitals to find alternative shelter for people who take refuge in emergency rooms for problems that aren’t necessarily medical. 

But this week, shelters are full and hospitals aren’t letting people stick around, Woo said. 

“I had two ladies discharged (from the hospital) and literally no one wants them,” he said. “I had to put them in hotel rooms. I may have to book several more hotel rooms to address this issue, but where does the money come from? The best thing people can do is donate to people like us on the front lines.”

The Don Bosco Senior Center has suspended midday meals and social activities for older people at its drop-in center in northeast Kansas City. But its staffers will box up lunches and deliver them to seniors, said Ann Van Zee, director of development. The center already operates a Meals-on-Wheels program for homebound seniors, and serves a total of about 750 meals each weekday through its site-based and mobile programs.

Although clients will continue to receive meals, the center will lose funds it receives for providing recreational activities, and reimbursement rates for meals don’t cover the entire cost, Van Zee said. So, like other nonprofits, Don Bosco is hoping donors will continue or increase giving.

Care Beyond the Boulevard, a nonprofit, recruits doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to take health care to people on the streets, in camps and under bridges. Beginning this week, the group’s mobile van will be stocked with kits that include tissues, hand sanitizer, protein bars and bottled water, and also printed information about the COVID-19 virus and precautions that homeless people can take.

Jaynell “KK” Assmann, the group’s founder and president, said she feared it was a matter of time before the virus strikes hard at the region’s homeless population.

Harvesters Community Food Network is curtailing participation by volunteers and spending extra time on deep cleaning, said communications manager Gene Hallinan.

And instead of encouraging donations of canned and boxed goods, Harvesters is asking for cash at this time.

“With monetary donations we can leverage our buying power and we can purchase pallets of food that don’t have to be sorted,” Hallinan said. 

While dealing with a pandemic is new, Harvesters has vast experience in responding to floods, droughts and other disasters, she added. “We remain committed to our mission to provide nutritious food to anyone who needs it.”

Barbara Shelly is a freelance journalist based in Kansas City.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Updated COVID-19 Booster Doses are now available

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below! Enter your email address and click on […]


    The Kansas City Museum: Helping to Cultivate Future Leaders

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Sponsored content The Kansas City Museum has a small but mighty staff consisting of seven full-time and five part-time employees. […]


    Kansas City introduces Zero KC, a five-year plan to end homelessness

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Last week, Kansas City, Mo., officials announced a comprehensive five-year plan to end homelessness in the […]


    Community weighs in on new Kessler Park Master Plan

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Hoxie Collective, the community planning practice tasked with creating a new Kessler Park Master Plan, hosted […]


    Eyeglasses at the Gathering Table

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Volunteers with 20/20 Vision Foundation visited the Gathering Table on Saturday to provide free eye exams […]


    Spire to host public hearings on rate hikes

    September 28th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor On April 2, 2022, Spire filed a natural gas rate case with the Missouri Public Service […]


    Re-enlistment ceremony take place at Elmwood Cemetery

    September 21st, 2022
    by

    Dorri PartainContributor United States Marine Corp Staff Sgt. Natalie Duff requested that her re-enlistment ceremony take place at Elmwood Cemetery […]


    The Sewing Labs tapped to participate in Department of Labor Initiative

    September 21st, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Sewing Labs, a Columbus Park based nonprofit, announced the organization is to be among the […]


  • House of News scores big at MO Press Convention

    September 21st, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher Once again, Kansas City’s Northeast News has raised the bar for Community Journalism in Kansas City’s Historic […]


    Historic Northeast Lofts developers seek blight declaration for Independence and Hardesty property

    September 21st, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Planning for Historic Northeast Lofts at the southeast corner of Independence Avenue and Hardesty Avenue is […]


    PH Coffee’s Halloween pop-up bar returns

    September 20th, 2022
    by

    The Sanderson’s Sisters playground will return to PH Coffee, located at 2200 Lexington Ave., for a second year in a […]


    Fatality crash at St. John and Oakley

    September 20th, 2022
    by

    A woman is dead following a hit-and-run collision on Monday night. East Patrol Division officers responded to a three car […]


    Winter Magic coming to Cliff Drive

    September 14th, 2022
    by

    At Tuesday’s Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Commissioners approved an agreement with Jolt Lighting to bring Winter Magic, […]


    Northeast Kansas City Chamber Of Commerce International Marketplace Taste & Tour 2022

    September 14th, 2022
    by

    Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below! Enter your email address and click on […]


    KCU’s Score 1 for Health hosts health screenings for Scuola Vita Nuova

    September 14th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor On Thursday, Sept. 8, the Kansas City University (KCU) Score 1 for Health Program hosted nearly […]


    New COVID-19 boosters targeting currently circulating strains becoming available in Missouri

    September 14th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Bivalent COVID-19 boosters are becoming available to Missourians with providers adding these boosters to their inventory […]


    Kansas City Current announce groundbreaking date, release new stadium renderings

    September 14th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Kansas City Current’s plans for the world’s first stadium purpose-built for a women’s professional team […]


    Join us for KCPS Loves to Read!

    September 13th, 2022
    by

    Kansas City, Missouri — To increase awareness of the importance of early literacy, Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) today launched […]


    Voters to weigh in on no-tax increase bond issuance for affordable housing; parks, convention center upgrades

    September 7th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Kansas City Council has approved two questions to be placed on the Nov. 8 general […]


    Community Outreach Programs

    September 7th, 2022
    by

    sponsored content from Jerusalem Farm My name is Abdullahi Islow. I am in 9th grade and attend Ryogoku Soccer Academy. […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.