Ruth Winstead, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church, said she’s determined to keep serving the needy as unemployment in the city rises and more individuals turn to the parish for food.
“I’m seeing more need, especially with kids being out of school. And some people have lost jobs,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s important we are there to serve the community. I have no fear of this virus. We say a prayer every morning that God will keep us safe.”
She and five volunteers don face masks and gloves when serving clients in an effort to keep the spread of the coronavirus at bay, she said. The elderly volunteers, some of whom are in their 80s, have remained home, she noted.
St. Augustine’s pantry, which operates in the parish basement, is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when canned and other dried goods are handed out. The pantry gives out produce on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The pantry is also giving away sack lunches sponsored by Brown-Forman on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May.
Since mid-March Dare to Care has seen a 35 percent increase in the need for food assistance across greater Louisville, said Stan Siegwald, the agency’s director of strategic initiatives.
Dare to Care has more than 200 community partners and some, like Southwest Community Ministries, have reported a “huge leap in need,” many others have reported seeing an increase in new faces. “These are crazy times. It’s definitely like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Siegwald.
He noted Dare to Care was concerned that changes brought about by the pandemic would cause its “distribution structure to collapse.”
Instead, Seigwald said, they’ve found “innovative ways” to keep feeding the needy while taking precautions to keep everyone healthy.
“That has been an amazing bright spot. It’s a testament to the community spirit and heartiness that we have,” he said.
The good news is that “we live in a great community,” he said. “We talk a lot about the things that divide us but in times like these we see that there’s a lot that unites us.”
While Winstead is working to keep individuals fed in the West End, ministries in the South End and Newburg are meeting needs, too.
St. Paul Church, 6901 Dixie Highway, and St. Ignatius Martyr, 1816 Rangeland Road, are operating their food pantries.
Individuals in need of food from St. Paul should call the parish office at 935-1223 ahead of time, saying how many are in the family and how many days they anticipate needing food.
St. Ignatius Martyr Church, 1816 Rangeland Road, operates its pantry on Tuesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers are meeting individuals outside with boxes of food.
Sitio Clothing Ministry, located in the old St. John Vianney school building, 4839 Southside Drive, is aiming to keep babies in diapers and people clothed.
Linda Gottbrath, a member of St. Rita Church who founded the ministry, said she wants people to know she is still there, though the pandemic has changed the way things are done.
She is asking individuals to call her at, 502-969-0018, to make an appointment to pick up items. She said she’s trying to keep those appointments 30 minutes apart and only one person is allowed in the building unless they are accompanied by a translator.
“I want people to realize we’re here and we want to help. I know they need diapers and their kids are outgrowing clothes,” said Gottbrath.
With warm weather right around the bend, Sitio has plenty of tops and shorts. There are diapers, blankets and some formula in stock as well. New underwear is usually available, but at the moment, she said, Sitio is out of stock and running low on funds.
“I kept praying on it,” she said. Then she heard restaurants were doing drive-through service and that inspired her to do a drive through Easter basket giveaway.
Gottbrath called the families she had served previously and invited them to pick up the baskets.
On April 8, Sitio handed out 239 Easter baskets to 76 families. “Those were 239 smiles,” she said.
Gottbrath said the people she serves don’t have the means to take care of their needs at the moment.
“I feel sorry for the people who are caught in a bind. I love them and want to help them. If I were in their situation I’d be appreciative of someone to help me,” she said. “I thank the Lord for allowing me to help.”
Sitio is still accepting donations. Gottbrath said it’s important for individuals who are donating to call and schedule a drop-off. Items left outside tend to get scattered and become useless.