By Chris Bavender
With Indiana’s stay-at-home order in place at least through April 7 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton County social service agencies and county officials launched a website March 18 to help residents know where to go for help.
The partnership includes Hamilton County Tourism, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners and the Good Samaritan Network, which helps agencies such as Fueled for School, food pantries and the Shepherd Center.
“We are communications professionals, and our team was asking what we could do to help,” said Brenda Myers, Hamilton County Tourism president/CEO. “We talked with Nancy (Chance) at Good Samaritan all weekend and developed a strategy and pulled it together in about 36 hours.”
The #LoveHC site provides COVID-19 business resources, explains how to donate to Good Samaritan Network and offers support to local businesses.
Chance, Good Samaritan Network executive director, said she had a feeling several weeks ago things would get bad and knew she needed to place an order for food to supply pantries. She had to turn to Texas to find what she needed.
“The food need is big and we can’t do food drives because of COVID-19 and having to let items sit for 12 to 24 hours,” Chance said. “So, if we can get it through these food programs, it comes shrink-wrapped and we can discard (the shrink wrap) and it’s easier.”
Good Samaritan typically serves 40,907 families in Hamilton County annually, which is equal to 18 percent of the population.
“But during COVID, we have already seen a 20 to 40 percent increase in people using the pantries,” Chance said. “They are seeing people they’ve not seen before because people can’t go to work.”
While HCT usually markets to out-of-town visitors, the team is shifting its focus to the immediate need of local residents and the community.
“Let’s help each other. We have always been a proponent of doing that and always have conducted campaigns and program, but now it is a full-out effort to help the community,” Myers said.
For more on how to donate, how to support local businesses and restaurants and for a COVID-10 toolkit, visit visithamiltoncounty.com/love-hc/.