People wait in line earlier this month in the Kroger parking lot on South Limestone for the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Coronavirus: United Way establishes fund to help Clark, Champaign nonprofits

A community fund has been established by the local United Way that will help those nonprofits in Clark and Champaign counties that provide shelter and food to residents as the COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, pandemic takes its toll.

The fund is designed to provide financial assistance to area nonprofits that offer basic necessity programs. Many area nonprofits have had to limit or temporarily suspend their operations amid the ongoing pandemic.

Those that continue to operate have made adjustments to their offerings in accordance with state guidelines. They are also dealing with a shortage of volunteers as many are elderly and fall under the demographic that are at the most risk of contracting coronavirus, said Kerry Pedraza, the executive director of the local United Way that serves both Clark and Champaign counties as well as Madison County.

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The local United Way has already started collecting donations for the fund with the hope of raising around $100,000 for the counties it serves, Pedraza said, noting that money raised in a certain county will be used for local programs in the area.

“I would not be surprised if we need every penny of that,” she added.

The fund is expected to run as long as the community experiences the impact, including the economic one, felt from the coronavirus pandemic, including layoffs and a slow down in daily business.

Donations to the fund can be made by visiting www.uwccmc.org/covid-19-community-fund. Checks can be made out to the United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties and can be sent to PO box 59, Springfield, Ohio, 44501. Representatives of the local United Way ask that those making donations specify which county they want their donations to be allocated to.

“The steps our communities have and will take for the foreseeable future in response to the health crisis will undoubtedly leave a significant number of our most vulnerable population unable to meet their basic needs,” said Steven McCready, the president of the United Way Board of Directors.

“This unprecedented need for services will leave many of our nonprofit agencies without the financial resources to meet the anticipated demand,” he added.

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Pedraza said that “it is unclear as to what the needs for our communities will be over the course of the next few months.”

“But what we do know is that our first priority is to assist our foodbanks/food pantries in feeding the hungry and to ensure that the homeless have appropriate shelter,” she added.

In Clark County, money raised will be directed to the Second Harvest Food Bank and to the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

The first, which also serves Champaign County, has been dispensing food through mobile food banks and during last week alone gave out over 300 commodity boxes to senior residents, Pedraza said. The second has been providing temporary shelter to Clark County’s homeless population through motel and hotel vouchers. Interfaith had to temporarily close its homeless shelters in order to comply with state orders designed to limit potential exposure to coronavirus.

In Champaign County, money raised will also go to the Caring Kitchen.

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