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How to help the front-liners and the needy in this time of crisis

#COVID19FoodDrive

Let me begin this column by saying that I hope and pray that you are okay.

I hope and pray that you and your family have enough food and medicine; that you have found the means and tricks to stay home and not go out even for groceries for the duration of the quarantine period.

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I believe most of the readers of Inquirer Business are the lucky ones. That means you have a home with enough space, not only for decent social distancing but for a luxurious staycation with the family, possibly a garden where your dogs and kids can run, maybe even a pool. Your lockdown menu consists of patè and sourdough kept in the freezer, steak and pork belly, Acai berry and Manuka honey.

Many others are not as lucky. So those of us who are lucky enough must do our part not only by staying home but by finding ways to help. Here are three ways to help:

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1. Donate to the COVID-19 food drive (#Covid19FoodDrivePH)

This is for the depressed communities who cannot afford to stay home—those who live hand-to-mouth or, as the Filipino saying goes, “isang kahig, isang tuka.”

A group of former Enderun students and faculty led by associate dean Bel S. Castro came up with an Adopt-A-Barangay campaign whereby they bring food packed by restaurants to the communities that need it.

The process is: people donate, the COVID-19 Food Drive organizers give participating restaurants the budget (P50/meal or P500/family meal comprised of viands good for 10 pax and one kilo of uncooked rice), the restaurants cook and pack the meals, which are then picked up and delivered by army reservists.

Efforts have been going on for 10 years now, with this group responding to different disasters, but the COVID-19 Food Drive is now run by Colene Tan, Patricia Bautista, and Cirine Chua, together with their former professor Bel. They are working with Capt. Sharon Reves, who is also a doctor, of the Medical Company of the NCR RCDG ARESCOM, a group of army reservists or citizen soldiers composed of doctors and paramedics who mobilize under the direct control of the civic-military operations for disaster rescue and relief operations in the National Capital Region.

So far, the following restaurants have agreed to participate: Bulacan Lugaw Kitchen, Pedro N’ Coi, Conspire Bakery, Johmarsito’s Corner, South 88, Besterm International, Yumboss Putok Batok, Tokyo Style Diner, Lampara, and MJ Delivers.

The barangays that have been adopted are: Jaime Cardinal Sin Village in Sta. Ana, Manila; St. Joseph Parish in Upper Bicutan, Taguig; San Vicente Ferrer Parish, Taguig; and Barangay Calawis, Antipolo.

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If you can afford to donate, contact Patricia Bautista at 0977-6266452. They are targeting to distribute 10,000 meals a day. At the rate this virus is spreading and with the uncertainty on how long this quarantine will really last, they need all the help they can get.

2. Donate to Frontline Feeders (#FrontlineFeedersPH)

I first saw this on the Facebook wall of Karla Reyes of The Plaza. It was a call for donations for frontline workers. They are now providing help to more than 20 hospitals.

The group distributes meals throughout the day to doctors, fellows, residents, nurses, other frontliners who have no more time to go out to buy food or go on breaks. They are currently preparing around 500 meals a day with the help of many volunteer restaurants (last March 17, they dispatched around 1,400 meals to ERs and laboratories in hospitals all over Metro Manila).

They have partnered with small cafes and vetted kitchen owners who prepare the food. Big chains such as Coffee Bean, Starbucks, Mayora (Le Minerale and Kopiko), among others, have also donated.

Karla Reyes shares how the ops started: “One of the group members Candy Gatmaitan Bernardo wanted to feed the frontliners for her birthday then she got Gang (Badoy) of RockEd involved, who called Dr. Gia Sison, who called Ros Juan of Commune Cafe. Then it blew up into a full blown thing when the lockdown was announced.”

Today—in just a week— they have streamlined and increased their operations to include free shuttle rides for health workers and frontliners, and they are linking people with spare condo units or AirBnbs to those who need a place to sleep nearer the hospital or to avoid going home to their families during this time.

To donate, send a private message on Facebook to their account Frontline Feeders Philippines or message Ros Juan at 0998-9998667.

3. Donate to Caritas Manila

Caritas Manila is calling for cash donations to provide LIGTAS COVID-19 kits and Caritas Manna bags to 6,000 poor communities and families in Metro Manila.

The P2000 Caritas LIGTAS COVID-19 kit for a family of five includes one liter of 70-percent ethyl alcohol, five handy bottles of 30-ml alcohol, five washable face masks, one liter of antibacterial liquid soap, one box of 100 tablets of Vitamin C with zinc, a pair of reusable gloves, one liter of liquid bleach, three pieces of cleaning cloth and an eco bag.

The Caritas Manna food bag contains five kilos of rice, mung beans, nine assorted canned goods, two packs of Caritas Margins kalabasa/malunggay noodles, 1/4 pack of sugar and salt and an eco bag.

To donate to Caritas, call landline 8562-0020 to 25 local 118, 139, 135, or mobile 0917-5955083.

There are two more ways to help:

First, stay home and stay healthy. I know this is not possible for everyone, but try.

For me, I practice social distancing not for myself but for the seniors who are high-risk. Always wash your hands and disinfect everything.

If for some reason you have to go out, do not take your outside clothes into your house. Leave them by the door (be creative in implementing this).

Finally, pray. This pandemic, while painful for us, must be a miracle to heal the earth. The canals of Venice have reportedly cleared as have the skies of Wuhan.

While it is painful to see so much suffering, I cannot help but marvel at the magnificence of the Lord in commanding human activity to stop to let the earth heal. (Whoever would have thought that airports and malls around the world could altogether close?)

We must submit to this Greater Force and ask for mercy so that this period will not be prolonged. We must also pray for wisdom for our leaders, that they may handle this crisis well; and for strength and protection for our frontliners.

My prayers are with you and your families. God be with us! INQ

More from the author at margauxsalcedo.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. For daily online mass and other prayer schedules as well as for more details on how to donate to Caritas Manila, visit DominusEst.PH or Dominus Est PH on Facebook.

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