Lilo began to collect donations for purchasing raw bulk materials in mid-August of this year and were able to purchase enough face masks, vinyl gloves, anti-septic wipes, and packaging to put together 1000+ PPE kits. In these PPE kits were 2 individually wrapped disposable face masks, three antiseptic wipe packets, and 4 disposable gloves. We sat down with 3-5 volunteers everyday for about 2 weeks and spent anywhere ranging from 5 to 7 hours per day hand-packaging the supplies. Everyone handling these kits wore face masks & gloves and were all temperature/symptom-checked beforehand. Here's my heartfelt thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers!
For the next week or so, we reached out to many social service organizations and were able to set up drop-off and distribution events with over 5 of them. For me personally, the most insightful of which was the off-site event that Loudon Hunger Relief (LHR) invited us to. The show-up rate was so great that the line of guests could be wrapped around the building several times and the lot was jam packed from start all the way to past the scheduled ending time. We were able to hand-out PPE kits to over 300 families while talking with everyone about their life stories (from a 6 feet distance of course). The volunteers and I were so touched by many of the guests and what they had to say- the most memorable of which was when the absolute sweetest grandma came up to our distribution station and cried out gratefully upon opening her PPE bag and seeing masks. Her family had been running very short on food because not only were they in financial distress over her children's layoffs thanks to the coronavirus, but they were also very fearful of going into grocery stores without any proper masks. She told me that individually packaged masks were almost never available at her local gas stations and bulk packages of masks were more expensive than their budget allowed for...meaning her grandchildren often went to bed with only half-filled bellies. This was truly another point of view of the coronavirus that we had never even imagined and it was definitely heart wrenching to hear.
The LHR staff there were stuffing tote bags and cardboard boxes full of fresh produce, household products (i.e. toilet paper, tissues, etc.), and other foods. It was such a productive, equally-cooperative, and common goal oriented experience that the entire aura of the scene was amazingly tangible for all. We were working for a bit over 3 hours and although the sun was burning, the genuine love there shone through the heat. I still remember one of the staff in charge of unloading from the delivery truck was wearing a grey tee and every time a guest walked past him, they would applaud him for how hard he was working. That middle to senior aged staff member was non-stop unloading 10 to 20 pound delivery boxes for the entirety of the more than 3 hour long event and if his shirt were to be wrung dry at the end, the ground below was sure to be left soaking wet. In the best way possible, there were no complaints throughout despite the unfavorable weather and conditions.
Check out the "Projects/Events" page of our website (npolilo.org) to learn more about the rest of our distribution events. And while you are on our website, it would be so greatly appreciated if you could consider donating and/or volunteering. We hope everyone is staying safe during quarantine and please don't forget to mask up!