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Open Link Operating During Quarantine
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-03-25

Quakertown Food Pantry also adjusting

 

           The Open Link has seen an increase in demand for supplies from its Community Food Pantry due to the impact of COVID-19. The pantry is fully operational and is meeting the needs of our community, according to Kelly Chandler, the organization's Development and Communications Manager.

            However, the multi-service agency serving the greater Upper Perkiomen Valley anticipates seeing more need as time goes on. The economic impact related to the novel coronavirus could force it do more, according to Chandler.

            "We believe as more people are out of work, and for extended periods of time, the number of people reaching out for help will obviously go up," she wrote in an email to the Town and Country received last week. "We may also see an increase in need with isolated seniors."

           Through its offices at 452 Penn St. in Pennsburg are closed to the public, the staff remains available to deliver all the organization's services. According to Chandler, a team mentality has allowed the staff to maintain good attitudes and focus on the mission to help those who need it.

           "People needing services have also been very understanding and recognize we're doing everything in our power right now," she wrote in a March 19 message.

            Financial support, bags of supplies and people volunteering their time and service have increased recently since the pandemic's impact accelerated, according to Chandler. She said the organization is asking for monetary donations that will allow it to make the necessary purchases to fill in the gaps between what was donated and what people need.

            "To say we're grateful just isn't enough," Chandler wrote. "The community's support of our organization has been awesome and is making all this outreach possible."

            Clients can receive food without leaving their vehicle. Orders are placed electronically via software or over the phone. They are bagged by staff and volunteers and delivered in a drive-through process at staggered time intervals, according to the development and communication manager.

            According to Chandler, additional donations are necessary to help sustain the program moving forward. She argues that the future needs of  the Valley are unforeseeable. Financial contributions are preferred.

            "These are uncertain times for everyone," Chandler wrote. "The end to the health crisis isn't quite in sight."

            Last week, the Meals on Wheels program – which continues to operate out of the Senior Center, located at 517 Jefferson St. in East Greenville – delivered 406 meals. Chandler described that total as near the normal amount.

            Volunteers are utilizing a knock-and-step-back procedure to increase distancing, according to information provided by Chandler. It states that some seniors have also placed a small chair or table outside the door for the volunteers to place their meals.

            "Even though it's from farther away, we're still saying hello and personally checking on each one of those seniors," she wrote.

            The organization has canceled its "Planting Hope" Gala, which was previous scheduled for April 25 at the Upper Perkiomen YMCA. According to Chandler, it is moving to an online format this year.

            "We hope people will continue to support us as it's our biggest fundraising event of the year," she wrote.

            For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.theopenlink.org, or its Facebook page. Anyone interested in volunteering in the future should contact email volunteers@theopenlink.org.

           The Quakertown Food Pantry, located at 101 N. 3rd Street, is attempting to increase its hours of operation due to increased demand, according to President Donna Serok. She said the organization is updating its needs daily on its Facebook page. Serok thanked the community for its outpouring of support.

            "So many more people are donating food and offering to volunteer their time," she said. "It's been amazing how the community has come together."

            People who need food are asked to call the facility at 215-536-0240 in advance to make sure it is open. She said those wishing to volunteer should send an email message to quakertownfoodpantry@gmail.com.

            The pantry will be closed Thursday to allow for a deep cleaning and sanitizing. No more than five volunteers work at the pantry at any one time and that they are required to wear gloves, according to Serok.

            She said clients pick up food on a staggered schedule.

            "We're doing everything possible to keep volunteers and the community safe," Serok said Wednesday morning.


 

 

 

 

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