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By Shawna Tello
Jackson YMCA

(April 21, 2020 7:00 AM) Since 1896, the Jackson YMCA has worked to help move people in our community forward through Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Now, the need is greater than ever, and the Jackson YMCA – with the support of our partners, members, volunteers and donors – are working hard each day to ensure the essential needs of our neighbors are met.

When the state mandate first closed our doors on March 16, the next day our few remaining staff members began serving grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students each day, thanks to our ongoing partnership with Jackson Public Schools. Our one-hour distribution time soon grew to two hours as we served more people each day. Currently we provide about 2,000-plus meals weekly, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our downtown location. On average we distribute 1,200 breakfast and lunch student meal bags Monday through Thursday and up to 1,050 meal bags – three sack breakfasts and three sack lunches – on the weekend.

With so many businesses forced to temporarily close, and so many people finding themselves suddenly unemployed, we learning of a growing need for essential items – such as cleaning supplies, hygiene items like soap, shampoo and toothpaste, and infant care items like formula, diapers and wipes. Thanks to donations from our members and our partnership with the Jackson COVID-19 Area Network (JCAN), we have been able to distribute these items. Whenever we have reached out to our members to support our community, they have answered – and I am once again reminded of the generosity, kindness and selflessness of our members.

Our outreach recently expanded again, as we learned that while students were receiving the sack meals, adults were having to go without. By partnering with Compassionate Ministries of Jackson County, which is providing nonperishable sack meals, we distribute approximately 20 to 25 family meal boxes per day.

A man who comes to the Y almost every day to pick up meals told us, “God has blessed me with my apartment that is my own. I have two grandkids that I am looking after, and now, because of the Y, we have food on the table.”

Hearing stories like that moves me to tears, and I am grateful that our Y is able to support kids, adults and families during this challenging time.

If you have a comment, suggestion or know of a way we can help, please contact us at Covid19@jacksonymca.org. Our doors may be closed, but the Jackson YMCA is here for you. 

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