Christian Help Center changes the way it delivers food to clients during pandemic
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The way food is delivered to clients at the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center and Food Pantry has changed to stop the spread of coronavirus, a highly contagious respiratory disease, as the agency sees an increased demand for assistance.
Families can no longer enter the Help Center, located at 300 Huron Street, in efforts to protect staff, volunteers, and clients from catching the deadly virus.
Instead, volunteers take sheets of the food and other items available, which fluctuates every week, while the clients remain in their vehicles. The volunteers then go fill the orders, and load the food into their vehicles.
“It’s a lot of physical work,” said Cindy Hummel, the director at the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center and Food Pantry.
The pandemic has caused a reduction in staff and volunteers, with most of them being senior citizens who don’t want to leave their homes.
“They’re hunkering down until this blows over hopefully,” Hummel said.
The Help Center is normally open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Friday hours have been eliminated for the foreseeable future to give volunteers who do show up a break.
“I have to watch out for the people who are still volunteering here,” Hummel said.
The Help Center typically assists eight to 11 families per day this time of year. Due to the high amount of workers who are unemployed due to stay-at-home and social distancing orders, the agency is helping 30 families put food on the table every day it is open.
Volunteers have been delivering food to residents who are immunocompromised and don’t want to leave their homes along with free deliveries through the Crawford County Transportation Authority.
“We’ve arranged for Dial-A-Ride to deliver food to people that don’t want to go out period,” Hummel said.
The Crawford County Community Christian Help Center and Food Pantry changed to its new method of operations on March 18.
“We definitely get a lot of exercise,” Hummel said.
A full wall in Hummel’s office is filled with thank you notes and cards since measures to reduce COVID-19 were implemented.
“They’re very, very thankful,” she said.
Camp AuSable has been making several trays of bread to distribute to clients. The bread is shared with the Grayling Baptist Church and the Lions Den in Roscommon, a non-denominational Christian organization specializing in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse.
“It’s more than what we’ll ever use,” Hummel said.
For every $1 donated to the Help Center the agency can get $6 worth of products from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan based in Flint.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also fast tracking a program to help farmers facing hardships that will provide seasonal food such as potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and fresh fruits and vegetables to save them from going to waste. The program, which is being funded with $300 billion, will also provide meat and dairy products.
Trucks will be delivering the products to the Help Center twice a week from May through the end of the year.
“That will be a good asset for us to deliver all sorts of good stuff,” Hummel said.
Donations from churches, businesses, and individuals continue to come to the Help Center to provide assistance to residents during these uncertain times.
“They’re very, very giving,” Hummel said.
“Grayling is a very giving community.”
The Grayling Baptist Church has also established the Grayling Cares Temporary Help Center. It is open at the church, located at 705 Madsen Street, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Friday. Care packages are also provided to children and senior citizens through the pantry.
A food truck distribution, held at the church on Thursday, April 23, provided food to 640 people.
“The need is here in the community,” Hummel said.
Scott Dolan dropped off a box of food at the Help Center on Wednesday, April 29, as he and his family prepared to put Grayling in the review mirror as they were moving to California.
With a U-Haul trailer hitched to his truck, Dolan said they needed space to pack their belongings.
“We’re short on space, so we figured we would donate the rest of the food,” he said.
The family decided to pay it forward to Grayling as they were headed for the long haul across the country.
“We could use the food out on the road, but I figured the community has helped us and we can help back,” he said.
For more information, to seek assistance, or to make donations, contact the Help Center at (989) 348-6046.