As Leadville and Lake County begin to feel the effects of the closures required in an effort to stem the spread COVID-19, support networks are gathering and figuring out ways to support the community in an uncertain time.

As many people find themselves out of work for the duration of the closures, community organizations and individuals are focusing on the necessities that may be harder to come by, such as food and financial support.

At Saint George Episcopal Church, volunteers have stepped in to help bolster the existing meal sharing and food distribution programs to account for a higher demand as a result of the spike in unemployment caused by the closures.

The group has shifted from hosting community meals at the church itself to distributing meals to people who need them, meeting people outside the church to limit the number of people inside at a time, Susan Fishman, a volunteer with the food distribution program at the church, said.

With cones lining the sidewalk to mark the proper distance for people to stand apart from each other, honoring the social distancing recommended to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, community members lined up Friday outside Saint George Episcopal Church to receive meals and, in some cases, groceries.

Four days of the week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, the group will distribute cold lunches instead of the hot meals they regularly prepare and share, forgoing the community meals to abide by limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people, Fishman said.

On Saturdays starting at 11 a.m., the group will distribute boxes of food prepared for pickup at the church.

Wednesday’s food bank distribution saw a larger than normal turnout of people receiving food, and the group distributed 150 boxes, Fishman said.

The supplies were bolstered this week by donations from a variety of local and regional businesses and individuals, with several ski resorts donating produce in an attempt to put it to use in light of the recently-mandated closure of all downhill ski resorts, Fishman said.

Volunteers, largely organized by Lake County Build a Generation (LCBAG), helped to prepare and distribute the food – an effort that will likely continue at least into mid-April, Fishman said.

LCBAG has collaborated with a variety of local organizations and individuals to organize volunteer efforts, Katie Baldassar, executive director, said.

People who want to volunteer can fill out a form, available in English and Spanish, provided on the LCBAG website. There is another form, also in English and Spanish, for people in need of help to request support, Baldassar said.

“We’re a town that really relies on seasonal work,” Sara Edwards, a volunteer helping at Friday’s meal distribution, said. “People are out of work and need support,” Edwards said.

Edwards, seeing the increased need for volunteers as a result of the closures, contacted LCBAG and joined the food distribution effort at Saint George.

“It’s like our duty to maintain community,” she said.

Seeing the need to continue providing meals for students during school closure, Lake County School District has also implemented a food support program, specifically for children 18 and younger, Kerri Quinlan, director of healthy schools, said.

Initially, the school district planned to only set up meal distribution sites at schools throughout the district, but seeing the potential for crowds and wanting to better serve the community, the district developed a plan to deliver meals to outlying communities in addition to establishing distribution points, Quinlan said.

Using district vehicles and vans from Full Circle, Lake County School District staff and volunteers began their daily meal delivery and distribution program Monday.

The district plans to continue the meal delivery and distribution through the duration of the closure, Quinlan said.

In addition to food security, financial aide is another focus of relief efforts in Lake County, and the state as a whole.

At the local level, the Lake County Community Fund has started fundraising for their Community Disaster Relief Fund, a collaborative effort between individual donors, government entities, and businesses that will provide financial assistance to community-based organizations, John McMurtry, executive director of the Lake County Community Fund, said.

Founded three years ago in the midst of a particularly damaging fire season, the disaster relief fund has been re-established to provide aide to local organizations like the food bank at Saint George and non-profits impacted by the closures, McMurtry said.

“This is exactly the kind of thing it’s for,” McMurtry said of the disaster relief fund.

Dispersal of the funds will be managed by the Office of Emergency Management, Public Health Agency, and Department of Human Services, with special care being taken to not exclude organizations receiving funding from other relief efforts as a result of getting money from the disaster relief fund, he said.

As of Thursday, the fund had over five thousand dollars ready for dispersal, a combination of the remaining balance of the fund and new contributions, he said.said.

“People are out of work and need support,” Edwards said.

Edwards, seeing the increased need for volunteers as a result of the closures, contacted LCBAG and joined the food distribution effort at Saint Mark’s.

“It’s like our duty to maintain community,” she said.

Seeing the need to continue providing meals for students during school closure, Lake County School District has also implemented a food support program, specifically for children 18 and younger, Kerri Quinlan, director of healthy schools, said.

Initially, the school district planned to only set up meal distribution sites at schools throughout the district, but seeing the potential for crowds and wanting to better serve the community, the district developed a plan to deliver meals to outlying communities in addition to establishing distribution points, Quinlan said.

Using district vehicles and vans from Full Circle, Lake County School District staff and volunteers began their daily meal delivery and distribution program Monday.

The district plans to continue the meal delivery and distribution through the duration of the closure, Quinlan said.

In addition to food security, financial aide is another focus of relief efforts in Lake County, and the state as a whole.

At the local level, the Lake County Community Fund has started fundraising for their Community Disaster Relief Fund, a collaborative effort between individual donors, government entities, and businesses that will provide financial assistance to community-based organizations, John McMurtry, executive director of the Lake County Community Fund, said.

Founded three years ago in the midst of a particularly damaging fire season, the disaster relief fund has been re-established to provide aide to local organizations like the food bank at Saint Mark’s and non-profits impacted by the closures, McMurtry said.

“This is exactly the kind of thing it’s for,” McMurtry said of the disaster relief fund.

Dispersal of the funds will be managed by the Office of Emergency Management, Public Health Agency, and Department of Human Services, with special care being taken to not exclude organizations receiving funding from other relief efforts as a result of getting money from the disaster relief fund, he said.

As of Thursday, the fund had over five thousand dollars ready for dispersal, a combination of the remaining balance of the fund and new contributions, he said.

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