Under stay-at-home orders, many of us do not see the daily plight of citizens on the fringe. We cannot see the hundreds of cars lined up at drive-thru food banks, the millions of people searching for jobs, or the hospital beds filling up.
But what is life like for those serving on the frontlines?
The Signatry spoke with Dave Donaldson, co-founder of CityServe International, for a glimpse into the frontlines of COVID-19. “One of the biggest challenges across our country is people that are shut in,” said Donaldson. “They no longer have access to any kind of transportation to grocery stores. In some cities, transportation services are now limited. Or family members who usually pick them up and take them to services have been quarantined.”
Across the nation, volunteers are partnering with churches and local officials to deliver food safely to at-risk households. For many volunteers, being on the frontlines means donning masks and gloves, going door-to-door, dropping off supplies at the front step, and sometimes even praying with residents—from six feet away, of course.
CityServe partners with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, and these are just two of the many organizations helping those affected by COVID-19, delivering hope through food, medical care, and emergency kits.
“CityServe has received story after story of seniors smiling through the tears as they shared how their cupboards were growing bare and their situation becoming more desperate—but how their hopes were raised as Good Samaritans showed up at their door,” according to Robin Robinson, director of CityServe in Bakersfield, Cali. The ministry partnered with Bakersfield’s Board of Realtors to “provide delivery of food boxes and essentials to seniors and shut-ins who are unable to get out to the store.”
The task of getting food to families in crisis is a group effort. Ministries such as CityServe and World Vision use local warehouses to distribute emergency supplies to local points of distribution (PODs) such as churches and nonprofits. The warehouses receive donations from Costco, Home Depot, and other businesses. Click here for items your business can donate. They then truck the supplies to PODs, who pipeline the supplies to neighbors in need.
Truck drivers are now working long hours delivering food and resources. “It’s hard,” Donaldson said about their truck drivers’ increased service. “People think in terms of point A to point B, but there’s a lot of space in-between. We’ve got to pray for them and be encouraging them because they’re one of these heroes.”
Their routes are grueling but worth it as the stories pour in.
World Vision works through church partners and school districts to reach the most vulnerable with Family Emergency Kits pictured below.
“I am so grateful to have the supplies, the food, and the school items,” one woman said after receiving World Vision’s distribution. “I don’t know what I would have done without the relief packages. It’s such a hard time and then to lose your job on top of that is beyond. To know that the church and people are out here giving us these kits, I don’t know what to say.”
In Las Vegas, over 200,000 employees have been laid off. Paul Marc Goulet, pastor of International Church of Las Vegas, now finds himself serving a congregation where half the people became unemployed seemingly overnight. “The church has been flooded with pleas from families trying to cope with the crisis,” said Donaldson. CityServe and World Vision are sending several truckloads to Las Vegas and are looking for donors to sponsor a truck.
Pursuing Creative Service
Across the nation, the needs are great, and ministries are stepping up in their creativity. CityServe has set up drive-thru food banks, with over four hundred cars lining up at a time.
From Donaldson’s personal experience working with disaster response ministries, he praised CityServe, World Vision, Convoy of Hope, Salvation Army and Samaritans Purse as organizations “on the frontlines connecting the resource to the need and in the name of Jesus.”
Samaritan’s Purse has set up a tent hospital in New York City’s Central Park, with volunteer doctors and nurses working to care for COVID-19 patients.
The Salvation Army “is busy at work doing what it has done for 140 years in the United States … ‘the most good.’” They continue providing food, shelter, and the love of Christ, even as needs increase during the pandemic.
Convoy of Hope aims to supply 10 million meals to families in need across the nation. “They use the local church as staging areas for disaster [relief],” said Donaldson, who co-founded this ministry as well. “They try to be the first on the scene and the last to leave.”
CarePortal serves online to connect churches with real needs reported by social workers, often the ones directly communicating with families in need. As the nation shuts down to “slow a surge of COVID-19,” according to CarePortal’s COVID-19 executive overview, they’re seeing another surge: “a surge of family breakdown harming our most vulnerable children, families, and elders. We need the Church to engage NOW with an overwhelming counter-surge of care.”
How You Can Help
You can get involved. Donors at The Signatry can support the relief efforts through their donor advised funds. Across the nation, we see this as a great time where people are digging deeper into their resources to be able to help.
“I hope as we look back on this crisis, we don’t have to claim, ‘All I did was follow the social distancing policies and watch a lot of Netflix,’” said Donaldson. “There are few moments in our lives like this where we can make such a significant difference. So many of us have accounts waiting to be leveraged for the greatest opportunity. Well, this is it. This is it.”
President of World Vision U.S., Edgar Sandoval Sr., agrees. “It’s a unique time because we are seeing the impact of the crisis right in our own backyard—affecting our neighbors, schools, and churches. I’ve met with the leaders at CityServe and we are united together in Christ … This is a beautiful expression of the church, working together to act swiftly to help the most vulnerable in this crisis.”
If you would like more information about using your donor advised fund or setting up a donor advised fund, visit here.