As grim economic statistics continue to roll in, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 14.7% in April and 20.5 million people losing their jobs, the coronavirus pandemic has left many without the means to buy food.
For over two months, the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church, along with various businesses and volunteers — members of the congregation and nonmembers — stepped up to feed the hungry in the community.
Every Tuesday, from mid-March through May 26, St. Elizabeth offered hot meals for pick up or delivery.
The team of volunteers, a diverse collaboration of businesses and private citizens from all different walks of life came together with a common goal of providing someone in the community a hot meal once a week.
Rob Raschio, a volunteer, said both Russell’s Custom Meats and local family Clint and Etelie Benge donated food, while Cornerstone Church donated $500 and the Elks Lodge donated $2,000 for the food drive.
The effort to feed the hungry in the county brought out people who have been impacted by the pandemic as well.
Shannon Taylor was laid off from her job as a bartender at the Grubsteak Mining Company Bar & Grill because of COVID-19. Instead of sitting at home and grumbling, she joined friend and fellow restaurant worker Desi Burill who, at the time, had been laid off as well.
The Tuesday evening food drive helped those who have been isolated at home due to social distance restrictions.
Lynette Tipton said she had dropped by every Tuesday to pick up a meal for her 88-year-old cousin who cannot leave her house due to the COVID-19 crisis. She said the service has been very helpful for her cousin.
“She is 88 years old, and she can’t go out, so this has really helped,” Tipton said.
Dovie Wood, a teaching assistant at Humbolt Elementary School, said she has been grateful to have had a chance to help.
“It’s brought a lot of us together,” she said.
Raschio said when the pandemic first hit in Mid-March that people were understandably fearful about what was going to happen.
“We had never had this kind of crisis,” Raschio said. “It was important for people to know that things were going to be OK.”
Vincent Raschio, 12, who helped deliver meals to people at home, said it has been rewarding to serve people who really need the assistance.
“One time a lady came to the door with tears in her eyes,” he said.
The Squeeze-In Restaurant and Deck prepared spaghetti dinners for St. Elizabeth’s final meal May 26.
Owner Shawn Duncan said she was happy to be asked and said it is unfortunate the church cannot continue to provide the meals.
“A lot of people in the community still need it,” she said.
Father Christie Tissera said the church was carrying out the mission of St. Elizabeth, the patron saint, which was to help the poor, the lonely, the sick and the needy, and will continue to help in another capacity in the future.