The COVID-19 pandemic has had an economic impact on many of our families, friends, and neighbors. While many applicants have actually returned to work, limited hours, substantial decrease in clientele and catching up on the financial strains of the previous months has been difficult.
Over the past 27 weeks, the Catholic Community Foundation has received nearly 400 gifts from people who simply want to reach out to their neighbors in need in eastern South Dakota. Those gifts made it possible to provide emergency assistance grants to 643 families, including over 1,100 children.
Here is a message we received last month:
"Can you help? I've fallen behind on all my bills. I lost my job because of COVID-19 and I have an 11-year-old son. I've had to spend all my savings - and now my car fuel pump went out. I found a job and started a couple of days ago but I won't get a paycheck for two more weeks and can't hold on that much longer. I owe my landlord $500. I've never had to ask for a handout in my 36 years but I'm in desperate need of some help to get back on my feet. Thanks, John"
Our response was approval for emergency assistance and our COVID-19 Relief Fund manager, Kelly Bartmann, immediately received another message from John.
"Thank you so much. I'm beyond grateful for your help!! My address is _____________. I grew up Catholic but for years have only made it to church on Christmas Eve and Easter. Please let me know of a church in my area."
Below are some additional examples of stories people throughout eastern South Dakota have shared since we began offering a hand up through the COVID-19 Relief Fund
- In central South Dakota, a priest visited with a dad who had lost his young wife to COVID-19. Father was able to provide some financial relief as the grieving dad cares for his three small children at home.
- In another community, a couple shared their concerns with their local pastor. "How do we get by with my husband hospitalized due to cancer and now the bakery shut down?" Father was able to help financially, allowing some breathing time as they planned for the days ahead.
- Another pastor heard from a grandmother, living on a fixed income, who was faced with providing food and shelter for her granddaughter, nephew and their parents. This priest was happy he could help with some of her increased expenses.
- In Sioux Falls, a single mom called our office to ask for help. She was about to make a choice between food for her baby and paying rent. Our emergency grant was enough to cover the grocery bill for the next month or so.
Thank you to the many pastors who have taken the time and helped implement and distribute the COVID-19 Relief Fund in their communities.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund is currently depleted but open to accepting donations at any time.