Community foundations in Washington and Greene counties have established emergency funds to help local nonprofits through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington County Community Foundation (WCCF) established the Close to Home Disaster and Emergency Fund last week, and has since doled out more $60,000 to local nonprofits.
Betsie Trew, president and CEO of WCCF, said her organization was spurred into action after the first case of coronavirus in Washington County was announced March 13.
“It hit too close to home,” Trew said. “Before that, it was in another country. It was in another state. It was in another part of our state.”
WCCF announced the fund with three $10,000 grants to the Greater Washington County Food Bank, Washington City Mission and Salvation Army.
On Monday, WCCF gave another $31,000 to the Washington Health System Foundation for protective gear for hospital staff and patients.
“Charities are always expected to do a lot on limited budgets. They’re going to be expected to do even more, and no one has increased their budgets. They may even lose charitable contributions. It’s going to impact everyone,” Trew said.
The Greater Washington County Food Bank will use the money for packaging materials for their deliveries to allow for as little human contact with the food as possible.
The City Mission will be operating four pop-up pantries throughout Washington County. According to a WCCF press release, every client will receive a bag of groceries with nonperishable food and paper products. The grant allowed the mission to create 500 bags.
The pop-up pantries will take place on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at its Washington store at 382 W. Chestnut St., and from 1 to 3 p.m. at its Canonsburg store at 48 W. Pike St.; and on Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at its Monongahela store at 159 W. Main St., and 1 to 3 p.m. at the City Mission Samaritan Care Center at 84 W. Wheeling St., Washington.
The Salvation Army’s grant will enable it to bolster its Love in a Backpack program.
According to the press release, the Salvation Army will be able to add loaves of bread, peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce to their bags. They will operate alongside the lunch distributions at Washington, Trinity and McGuffey school districts while children are off school.
The Community Foundation of Greene County (CFGC) is taking similar steps with its Greene County Emergency Response Fund.
Though the organization has not awarded grants yet, CFGC Executive Director Bettie Stammerjohn said the foundation hopes to be able to help first responders and organizations like the Salvation Army and Washington Health System.
“Our first response right now is to deal with issues related to COVID-19. We don’t know what it’s going to be like in Greene County,” Stammerjohn said. “I know in conversation with my colleagues, we’re not talking about if we get one. We know it will come. We want to be ready to make sure our organizations have the capacity to help as this goes forward.”
According to Stammerjohn, the application process for a grant from the emergency fund will be simpler and quicker than its usual system. She said there will be an online application, though it is not yet available.
Both Stammerjohn and Trew hope to keep money available in these emergency funds with community donations. Both organizations accept donations through their websites, as well as checks.
As for deciding which nonprofits to help going forward, Trew said the WCCF has been in communication with 39 local health and human service organizations.
“In any disaster, you want to learn first, you don’t want to just react. Who is doing what in your community, and what you’re specific needs are,” Trew said.