As Tony Ley, Executive Director, explains, “our programs seem to lag the rest of the economy about a week. When the city was scouring store shelves for toilet paper, our Medicine Cabinet still had supplies thanks to the recent Pack the Pantry campaign. But this week, many of the usual staples are gone, donations have dropped, and we can’t even purchase temporary replacements in the stores.”
In addition, volunteer options have dramatically dwindled. “When our Food Pantry is open, we rely on 30 or so volunteers to help us sort, pack, and distribute food to our clients. This week we had one volunteer still willing to come in,” explains Tony, who understands why volunteers want to maintain safe social distancing. “Many of our volunteers are retired, and we want to ensure their safety throughout this ordeal. We look forward to their return when this is all over.”
To augment its small crew, staff that usually work at its two thrift stores on Coliseum and West Jefferson, that are temporarily closed due the Governor’s mandatory closing of non-essential businesses, have the option to take short shifts to maintain the donations that are still coming in, or can come to their Maple Grove location and help fill the gap. “We are giving our staff as many opportunities to continue to work until we can’t,” adds Tony.
While the organization is still able to deliver Sack Lunches to its clients on Saturday mornings, and has modified its distribution at the Food Pantry to providing a pre-packaged bag of groceries outside the facility, what they can provide has shifted dramatically. Tony explains that “even staples like bread are non-existent now. Our usual donors of bread no longer have any stock to donate, and like you, we can’t buy any temporary supplies from the stores.” Therefore, staff is making adjustments based on what IS available to fill the gap. “And next week, we may have to move to another option, but we will continue to shift and do whatever is needed to keep our doors open.”
And based on what the staff is seeing, they expect demand for their limited supplies to explode. “Again, we seem to lag the market. We expect in the coming weeks, as families that normally never would have considered our Food Pantry and Medicine Cabinet as an option, run out of options, our services may become their primary source of survival in the coming months.”
To help fill the gaps, the Franciscan Center is seeking a matching gift donor to help encourage gifts through April. “It is times like these that I am amazed by the continued generosity of our donors and supporters,” adds Tony.
Donors can make an online donation at www.thefranciscancenter.org, or by mail to 1015 E Maple Grove Ave, POB 10303, Fort Wayne, 46851. To donate product, please call Tony at 260-710-3985 for safe options and a current list of needs.