Middlesex United Way: Helping others can ease sense of isolation during outbreak

MIDDLETOWN — As we move into social distancing and self-quarantine, it’s natural to feel isolated. Staying away from other people, though necessary, doesn’t satisfy our urge to get out and take action, to do something in the face of this crisis.

Fortunately, even in isolation, you can help the most vulnerable among us.

If you are in need of assistance, please call 2-1-1. Connecticut 211 is working on the front lines of the pandemic. Expert 211 specialists provide real-time information on social services and other resources to those in need. If you know someone who is struggling or just looking for a source of reliable information, tell them to call 2-1-1 or text CTCOVID to 898211.

As an organization dedicated to the well-being of all individuals in our community, we are closely watching the developments surrounding the spread of coronavirus in our community. Our partners are being inundated with requests for assistance and running out of supplies. This unprecedented pandemic is affecting families and individuals who have never needed help in the past, and have especially impacted those already reliant on community assistance.

If you can do so, we are requesting you consider helping any of these following community partners:

St. Vincent de Paul Middletown Soup Kitchen, 617 Main St. Collecting donations from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Items sought: soap, deodorant, shampoo and body wash; sliced bread to make sandwiches, lunch meats, canned tuna and cheese. Also, protein and granola bars, individual beverages or juice boxes, bottled water, individual yogurts, cheese sticks, fruit cups, and bagged individual serving snacks (such as pretzels).

Amazing Grace Food Pantry, 16 Stack St., Middletown. Collecting donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. Pasta, pasta sauce, baked beans, peanut butter, canned tuna, boxed cereal, and macaroni and cheese. Other nonperishable canned or boxed foods are also welcome.

Gilead Community Services, 222 Main St. Extension, Middletown. Collecting donations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, regular masks, N95 masks, thermometers, bleach, face shields to put over masks and personal protective equipment.

At Home Child Care Providers, 35 Candlewood Lane, Middletown. Collecting donations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Alcohol Clorox wipes, bleach, diapers and disinfectant spray

Middlesex YMCA men’s shelter: Sandwiches (ham, turkey and cheese, but peanut butter and jelly is also appreciated), fruit, and other healthy snacks are needed. Items do not need to be bagged, as some may require refrigeration, and it is easier to store them. The YMCA staff will take care of bagging the items. Food can be dropped off at the Middlesex YMCA welcome center, 99 Union St., Middletown, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

If you are unable to contribute with items, United Ways across the state of Connecticut have created the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund to respond to the increasingly dire economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will rapidly deploy financial resources to individuals and families economically affected by the pandemic, including those who are out of work or have reduced work hours.

To donate to the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund go to CTUWCovid19ResponseFund.org. If you have additional questions on the fund or other ways you can give back, please call me at 860-346-8695.

Even in these uncertain times, no one is powerless to make a difference. Small acts, when added together, can amount to security and safety to those facing economic challenges and protect the most vulnerable.

Lastly, I just want to remind everyone that this too shall pass, and what we all really need right now is to lean on each other. Call your friends and family. What I’ve learned is that, even during isolation, modern technology allows us to stay connected. Checking in on friends and family is essential. And don’t forget elderly neighbors or others living alone.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.