Volunteer-led COVID-19 response begins Thursday across county

By JENNIFER COHRON
Posted 3/19/20

The people of Walker County are rising to the challenge of caring for their most vulnerable neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Volunteer-led COVID-19 response begins Thursday across county

Posted

The people of Walker County are rising to the challenge of caring for their most vulnerable neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis.

A community feeding program begins Thursday at 10 locations across the county. Hot meals will be served on a first come, first serve basis to families with children and special needs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and to seniors and others in need of food from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Seniors 65 and older can also visit their local senior center and fill out a form to receive a hot meal while supplies are available. 

The nonprofit Raising Arrows, which served meals at three Jasper locations on Tuesday and Wednesday while details for the countywide program were coming together, is cooking the food.

A portion of the food used has been donated by the Walker County and Jasper City school systems, which elected not to serve meals to students out of their lunchrooms during the shutdown to protect the health of their employees but were eager to support a nonprofit-led effort.

Those who come to a distribution location will receive as many meals as they need for their household and will be offered a bag of groceries if needed.  

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church's food pantry is providing the sacks of groceries. Donations of canned goods to the pantry is encouraged.

The feeding program will continue Monday through Friday until April 3, three days before students are expected to return to school. 

A plan is not in place to deliver meals to homes at this time, but one may be developed in the days to come if there is a need. 

Volunteers can sign up to help with the feeding program at https://signup.com/go/eftbkbD. Each project is listed individually, and the number of volunteers needed is limited to between three and five.

By press time Wednesday, 55 of 60 volunteer slots had been filled for Thursday and 55 of 66 slots had been filled for Friday. Volunteer opportunities for next week are not yet available but will be soon.

All locations will be drive-through only. Volunteers will place the food in the trunk of all vehicles. Meals cannot be eaten on-site.

The following is a list of distribution locations:

• Carbon Hill Community Center, located at 229 SW 2nd Street (for residents of Carbon Hill, Eldridge and Kansas)

• Cordova City Hall, located at 154 Main Street

• Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, located at 6450 Curry Highway 

• Nauvoo Town Hall, located at 176 McDaniel Road

• Sumiton Church of God, located at 50 Hosanna Drive (for residents of Dora, Sumiton and Sipsey)

• Oakman Senior Center, located at 8250 Oakman Parrish Road

• Parrish Community Center, located at 35 Tornado Alley

• Jasper Civic Center, located at 204 19th Street East 

• Jasper Housing Authority, located at 1005 Highway 69

• Raising Arrows, located at 589 Highway 78 in Jasper

Backyard Blessings, which serves nearly 900 students in Walker County with backpacks filled with food, is working on a plan to distribute food to the homes of those students.  Volunteer opportunities for next week will be posted at the sign-up.com site.  

Area teachers are expected to be instrumental in helping with this portion of the program.

The effort is being organized behind the scenes by the Walker Area Community Foundation, which similarly led the county's long-term recovery effort after the April 2011 tornadoes.

Monetary donations to support the feeding program can be made to WACF's Disaster Relief Fund, which will support all nonprofit organizations involved in this effort. To donate online, go to wacf.org and click the donate now button, or checks may be mailed to WACF, P.O. Box 171, Jasper, AL  35502. 

WACF is already receiving inquiries from food pantries about grants to support their emergent needs.