HEFLIN — COVID-19 has forced a Cleburne County faith-based nonprofit, Helping Every Area Resident to Succeed, HEARTS, to make some changes to help area residents it serves.
On Wednesday Robi Mobley, executive director of HEARTS, was busy with volunteer Cindy Robinson organizing donations into bags for distribution.
Mobley said the first change is how the group distributes food to the clients.
“Instead of giving one box a month we give them two boxes a month,” said Mobley.
Also, instead of clients being able to visit its Heflin or Ranburne offices at any time, they are asked to come on certain days of the month according to Mobley.
“We’re trying to limit not only the number of people that are coming in this area at one time but the amount of time that they are spending in here,” said Mobley.
Heflin clients can pick up their two bags, 30 pounds each, on the second and fourth Monday, while Ranburne clients can pick up their food on the second and fourth Thursday.
Mobley said that the dates are staggered to not conflict with the dates that Feeding Cleburne, another Cleburne County nonprofit, conducts its food distribution.
Another change HEARTS is implementing, according to Mobley, concerns supplemental feeding of children while schools are on mandatory dismissal. To this end, she said, HEARTS is working closely with the Cleburne County Board of Education and its food nutrition program.
“We have learned that they’re feeding on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the kids are getting two meals in a packet they get from them except for Friday which is one meal,” said Mobley.
Mobley said the school system is not providing the dinner that kids get at school in the afternoon on a normal schedule.
“So that’s a concern of mine,” Mobley said.
Mobley said that the packets HEARTS is providing include water, juices, two breakfasts and two other meals to supplement what the school system is providing. Mobley said HEARTS does not want to interfere with the school’s food distribution, only to help it.
HEARTS is also creating “senior survival packs.”
“We have several senior citizens as well as our cancer clients that are not able to get out of the home,” Mobley said.
Each senior survival pack includes disinfectant, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, toiletries and cleaning solutions.
Finally, HEARTS changed the date of the annual fundraiser that benefits its cancer relief, Day of Hope. The original date was March 28 but the HEARTS board of directors postponed it and will reschedule it at a later date.
Individuals with cancer receive emergency financial assistance with housing, utilities, transportation, medical supplies, medications, food, clothing and other items through the relief program, according to Mobley. Last year $25,000 was raised.
As Mobley stuffed supplies in bags Wednesday, her face bore a cloud of concern as she learned that the coronavirus was confirmed in neighboring Calhoun and Carroll County, Ga.
Mobley said the HEARTS thrift store in Ranburne was shut down that morning.
“We have a lot of people that come from the Carrollton area to shop there,” said Mobley.
For now both the Ranburne and Heflin HEARTS offices will remain open, Mobley said.
“We’re going to try to stay open as long as we can for the benefit of our clients. As it gets closer I don’t know, it’s going to be on a day-by-day basis,” Mobley said.
“We’re not as concerned for ourselves as we are our clients, especially the older clientele because about 40 percent of our clientele is the older, the elderly and the ones with cancer,” said Mobley.