TUCSON, Arizona (KOLD News 13) – When the pandemic started, many people gave back.
They volunteered at food banks, vaccination clinics, and more. Almost two years later, nonprofits in southern Arizona are now urgently seeking help as their demand for services increases and aid slows down.
On hot summer days it is normal for the Salvation Army to go to parks and distribute cold water for their “Operation Chill Out”.
“We’re bringing ice water and cold water,” said David Oh, the Salvation Army area coordinator in Tucson.
They depend on donations of water, clothing, sunglasses and more to help those in need. However, these donations have all but dried up.
“To be honest, I’ve had to go to Costco every other day this year,” said Oh.
He said they got about a tenth of the donated water they would normally get. During its operation, the organization passes a pallet of water every day. While donations have declined, the number of homeless has risen.
“Especially in the last few months in our cold storage center, we have seen a lot of new homeless people,” said Oh.
Usually they bring in a handful of volunteers every day and are grateful for the one-on-two they usually volunteered.
The Southern Arizona Community Food Bank was busier than ever during the pandemic after distributing more than 85 million pounds of food.
“That is way above what we would do in a normal year. We’d do about £ 68-70 million, ”said Norma Cable, public relations and marketer at Community Food Bank Southern Arizona.
The Arizona Guard was a key player in helping families in the food bank – coordinating and providing labor for distribution and collection. However, the blackboard isn’t sure how long they can stay to help. When they leave, about 50-60 volunteers have to help instead of the uniformed men.
“The guard came in and picked up where volunteers couldn’t,” Cable said. “The guard cannot stay with us forever, and we have to support this work.”
The Red Cross also sees a great need for volunteers. In search of those who can donate blood as the nation’s supplies dwindle and who can invest their time. The Southern Arizona chapter of the Red Cross said about the same five volunteers were used in house fires in the area. It was only in the past few days that the Tucson Fire Department said they had responded to more than 15 working fires and nearly a third were house fires.
“On average, we respond to around 3-5 house fires per week. So the need there is critical, ”said Courtney Slanaker, executive director of the Red Cross in Southern Arizona. “We are seeing a shortage of volunteers across southern Arizona to take on these responsibilities as disaster relief workers.”
The Pima Animal Care Center, which is filled to the brim with pets in need of care and adoptive parents, is also asking for help from the public.
What is driving the need for volunteers in all of these organizations is unknown. Perhaps people are tired, have their own financial problems, or are concerned about the pandemic. Regardless, they all say they are grateful for any help and also adhere to CDC guidelines. Without volunteers, their missions could not be accomplished.
“When we look to the future, we only work with volunteer support, without which we couldn’t do this work,” Cable said.
To volunteer or donate Salvation Army, walk here.
Volunteering at the Red Cross Southern Arizona, walk here.
Voluntary service at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, walk here.
Information on adoption and care at PACC, walk here.
Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.