Those in need of assistance during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis have a new place to turn to for help.
“Crawford Cares” is a Facebook-based organization that will connect volunteers to community members who may be less self-reliant.
Organizer Jill Popham said she had conversations with a number of community members, including Don Luensmann with Crawford County Memorial Hospital, Evan Blakely of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County and Pastor Jennifer Olson of the United Presbyterian Church in Denison.
“We have many rural communities that don’t necessarily have a lot of infrastructure to their community to help themselves,” she said. “They need something within their own communities that we would connect people to be able to help each other.
“If somebody in Charter Oak needs baby formula, it doesn’t serve any purpose for somebody in Denison to try to respond when there may be somebody in Charter Oak who can help.”
“Crawford Cares” will act as a message board to connect those people.
Individuals who want to volunteer to make deliveries and individuals in need of assistance are encouraged to join the “Crawford Cares” page on Facebook.
The same information has been posted on Channel 13 on the local cable television system.
Those without internet or Facebook access may relay a message to the page through Popham at 712-269-0205.
The overriding goal is to have a way to be responsive to individuals in need without putting volunteers at risk, she said.
Volunteers will be asked to leave items on doorsteps or in other designated places to limit interactions and maintain the required “social distancing.”
“I want people to be comfortable in doing that, with the idea that we’re helping each other but still protecting ourselves,” Popham said.
Individuals in need are encouraged to be specific about their specific needs and in which community they live.
“Whether it be a loaf of bread, peanut butter, a few groceries – or medications picked up with prepayments arrangements already made,” she said.
Hostile and untruthful individuals will be removed from the page.
“We just hope that people operate honestly and truthfully so we don’t have a situation where we have to deny anybody,” Popham said. “We don’t want our volunteers to get hurt, either.”
Luensmann, who is the executive director of the Hospital Foundation of Crawford County, told her that the foundation will be a community partner with Crawford Cares and will help get the word out.
Popham had initially wanted Crawford Cares to be a centrally-located operation that would function like a food bank, but no location was available. She still hopes to act on that idea once the organization is up and running as a delivery service.
Popham’s business, Linda Lou’s Boutique in Denison, is closed until at least March 31.
She believes Crawford County citizens will pull together to make the volunteer operation a success.
“America has done this before; we’ve had to support each other,” she said.
The most recent example is 9/11, but the country pulled together in World War I and World War II and Americans can do it again now, she said.