There’s no other way to say it: The past several weeks have been hard. Across our community, people are struggling to cope with a new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no different at SHIM. With our offices closed for the foreseeable future, we’ve had to adjust our programs and services to keep our employees and neighbors safe while continuing to provide food and other essentials to those in need.
And the need is growing by the day. While I wish I could say that life will go back to normal soon, we have to be prepared for things to get worse before they get better.
The good news is that our community is strong, and we’re stepping up in ways we haven’t seen before. We’ve always looked out for each other in the South Hills, but it’s different this time. We’re giving new meaning to “neighbors helping neighbors” as countless people offer to support the most vulnerable among us, whether they live across the street, down the road or elsewhere in our region. This crisis is scary and heartbreaking, but the response from our community gives me hope that we’ll come through it better than ever.
Throughout our region, there’s been an outpouring of generosity and support.
Before the pandemic began, thousands of people in our area were struggling to meet basic needs like food and utilities. Those numbers have only grown in recent weeks and are expected to increase even more for weeks and perhaps months to come. With many people out of work, maybe for the first time, there’s an urgent need for our food pantries to keep up with demand as families seek help to put food on the table.
In March, we intended to create awareness of hunger in our community through our March to Sack Hunger, Pack Hope campaign. While food donations have always been essential to that initiative, we had to shift our approach in the wake of COVID-19 to keep people safe and healthy. That meant taking the campaign online and asking for people to kindly donate through our website instead of hosting food drives or bringing food to our door.
We had high hopes, but those hopes were exceeded in a way we couldn’t have imagined. From March 13-30, we raised an incredible $51,000 from hundreds of online donations. I can’t thank everyone enough for the heartfelt generosity that we’ve seen in recent weeks. The funds you’ve helped us raise will ensure that our pantries remain stocked and ready to serve our community. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
I also want to acknowledge the local businesses that are contributing in huge ways. Recently, our friends at Bethel Bakery donated 180 loaves of fresh bread for our SHIM Center food pantry. I was there as hundreds of cars lined up to receive this special treat along with many other staples like eggs, milk and personal care items. While it’s hard knowing that more people are relying on our pantries, we’re grateful for those who are raising their hands to help us serve our neighbors.
That, South Hills, is why I cherish our community. The way we come together in the face of adversity is nothing short of inspiring.
If you are lucky to be in the position to make a gift to support our work, please visit shimcares.org/give.
We have a long road ahead, but it’s going to be okay.
There’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty right now, but there is hope on the horizon. As we’re seeing in our community, across our country, and around the world, these difficult times are bringing out the best in humanity. We’re facing a great challenge, but we’ll get through it together. Until then, look out for your neighbors, your loved ones and yourselves.
Stay safe and be well.
By Jim Guffey, executive director of SHIM