Many North Texas nonprofits say they are seeing an increased need for services at a time when fundraising and volunteer interactions are limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that’s especially true for grassroots organizations working to feed people.
In Dallas, volunteers at For Oak Cliff unpacked fresh produce on Tuesday to prepare for weekly Wednesday food deliveries to hungry clients.
For Oak Cliff Executive Director Taylor Toynes says this week’s deliveries will top 300 total household deliveries over the last three weeks.
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“Just trying to help people as much as we can,” Toynes said. “We helped a couple hundred folks, but it still isn’t enough.”
Toynes said his group has partnered with the Harvest Project in Dallas, the Oak Cliff Veggie Project and Café Momentum to provide packages of fresh produce and meals to hungry families, primarily in the 75216 zip code. That area is consistently ranked among the highest in concentrations of positive COVID-19 cases in Dallas County.
“Right now, being in a food desert compounded with a pandemic is tough,” Toynes said.
In Collin County, Frisco Family Services reported an increase in new client applications over the last two months. Executive Director Nicole Bursey told NBC 5 many clients had never gone to a food bank. Some, Bursey said, are food industry workers who lost their jobs or hours during the pandemic.
“When you’ve always been able to take care of yourself or your family to then have to reach out for help can be difficult. Many have not even tapped unemployment before,” explained Bursey.
The nonprofit reported that in March and April of 2019, Frisco Family Services helped 1,088 people. In the same period this year, 370 more have received assistance. At the same time, the charity had to cancel an annual gala that typically raises around $300,000 in March. It also temporarily closed the resale shop, which raises more than $100,000 a month, or 40% of Frisco Family Service’s operating budget.
Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys, the Communities Foundation of Texas and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas launched a campaign for North Texas Giving Tuesday Now. The online fundraiser hopes to raise millions for North Texas nonprofits.
“It’s concerning for the whole community because these are the organizations, these are the people that are going to provide and fill in the gaps,” said Susan Hoff with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Whether it’s access to food or supporting our kids with online learning - all the things we know are coming down the pike in terms of the impact of COVID-19.”
At the same time, Hoff said those who can give are generous during the pandemic. As of Tuesday afternoon, the website showed more than $10 million in donations pledged. https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/
Toynes said For Oak Cliff isn’t part of the group receiving donations through North Texas Giving Tuesday, but he said he’s seen the grassroots generosity of people in the community who offer to help.
He pointed to Dallas ISD continuing to provide free to-go meals at a time when schools are closed.
“When I think of my community, the first thing I think of is resiliency,” said Toynes. “I know people are going to make it out of this, I just don’t want individuals to become hopeless.”
“Through this time right now, being hopeless is fine for a moment. But, don’t get stuck there,” he added.