Dear Sisters and Brothers — Ulster Immigrant Defense Network (UIDN) has been supplying food to about 70 asylum-seeking families at third Thursday Share Days. Given restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, we can no longer bring volunteers together to package food or ask families to pick it up. As a result, we are starting a “shop and deliver” program — your opportunity to help meet a dire need.
For obvious reasons, the families UIDN serves are among the most vulnerable in our community. That vulnerability has been intensified by the present health crisis. Thus, our friends’ ability to meet their basic human needs — i.e., food and products that support personal hygiene — is shrinking, while their needs are increasing.
Many of our friends speak Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala and Belize, and their knowledge of Spanish and English is often limited. Some are unfamiliar with many of the available social safety nets and community resources. Many have no means of transportation or access to the internet. Employment possibilities are few to non-existent. And, most are caring for small children.
Given our current social distancing protocols, it is unsafe for UIDN volunteers to come together at Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church to package food, and we can no longer invite our friends to come to the Church to pick up boxes each month. To this end, last Thursday, March 19, UIDN volunteers delivered boxes of food and personal hygiene products to 50 doorsteps.
Further complicating the situation, grocery stores have established limits on the size of orders people can place making it difficult to impossible for UIDN to purchase food items in quantities needed in advance of the Family and Household Support Team’s third Thursday’s Share Days.
Thankfully, we have devised a way around this newest challenge. We invite UIDN supporters to shop for a family and deliver food and personal hygiene items to that family’s doorstep. If at all possible, for as long as necessary, we would like to provide “shop and deliver” assistance for our friends twice a month. If you are able to do this only once a month, we’re happy to pair you with another volunteer, so that each family still receives two deliveries a month.
UIDN will reimburse the cost of these shopping excursions. Simply mail or email us receipts and provide us with your mailing address so we can send a check to cover your costs.