Help is out there.
But what if you can’t get there?
Here’s how it works:
- Text or dial 412-568-3579 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday (you can also sign up here)
- Tell an operator about the item or resource you need help accessing — food, baby supplies, medical supplies, etc.
- The operator arranges to have the items picked up by a volunteer driver and delivered to your home, contact-free
- There is no fee for the service
This includes trips to a food bank or grocery store where the driver can purchase items on behalf of a customer — even those using food stamps.
When Shanon first launched the hotline weeks ago, it was just her.
“My phone was ringing constantly,” she told The Incline. “From sunup to sundown.”
Shanon has since added switchboard operators — all volunteers — and a stable of drivers — also volunteers. Together, they’ve made pickups and deliveries for as many as 70 clients in a matter of weeks.
The idea for a hotline came to Shanon after a virtual town hall in mid-March with local politicians, foundations, and agencies that helped to identify so-called “need gaps” in the area.
“We wanted to make sure access was actually accessible. And lots of programs are means-tested (…) on paper someone might seem like they don’t have a need but in reality they do.”
The need right now is especially huge. Food bank use has tripled in Pennsylvania during the pandemic. Long lines of cars wait outside of Pittsburgh food bank sites for help, and the images are so staggering they’ve gotten national attention.
There are dozens of volunteers pitching in now and grants from the Heinz Foundation and Opportunity Fund are helping support the work being done. But more help is always needed.
“We’re all volunteers. No one is being paid, but we’re hoping to get some resources so we can at least reimburse folks for gas.”
If you’d like to help the Community Delivery Hotline as a driver or by answering calls, text the hotline at 412-568-3579 or email Shanon at email@example.com. And if you can’t donate time but can donate money, you can do so with Cash App here or by reaching out to the collective at the email address above.
Shanon said she plans to continue the service even after the pandemic is over.
“The service is going to continue beyond COVID,” she said, because the need won’t stop.