Two downtown organizations just got $50,000 each from Hannaford to help Albany and Schenectady families hit hard by the pandemic.
At an event held Wednesday at the Albany Community Action Partnership, Hannaford announced its donation as part of a larger $250,000 gift to charities around New England and New York.
The Schenectady Community Action Program has served low-income families since the 1960s, but like many nonprofits they were overwhelmed by community needs as the coronavirus shut down economies worldwide.
“Just since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had over 3,000 additional calls from families who have been affected,” said Debra Schimpf, CEO of SCAP. “People calling with a crisis; ‘I lost my job, or I can’t get out, I tested positive.’”
Schimpf said since the crisis began SCAP has helped 110 families with things like telephone bills and copays, and 75 families with rent. That amounts to roughly $80,000 in assistance in just four or five months.
The donation from Hannaford comes just in time – previous funds have almost been totally spent, Schimpf said.
“We had been getting assistance from the Schenectady Foundation, and that first batch ran out. They provided us with a second batch that we’re currently spending down, and now we have the additional $50,000,” Schimpf said.
Hannaford Director of Operations Andy Willette said he was happy to be able to fund organizations in the local area.
“We’re going to continue identifying and meeting the needs in the community,” said Willette. “We’re a community member so it’s the right thing to do to be part of our community and show our leadership there.”
The business has long donated food and money to organizations like the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
At the event Wednesday, they gave 22 cases of food to the Albany Community Action Partnership.
ACAP will use their $50,000 grant to buy a van to bring food and resources to families, Executive Director Neenah Bland said.
“We realized that especially curing COVID, a lot of families were in fear of coming to get services,” said Bland, “and we were unable to go to different organizations like the Regional Food Bank to get more donations and get more fresh produce.”
The van will also help Albany residents get transportation to other services around the county, which Bland said can be difficult for residents on the outskirts of the city. Soon, bus rides won’t be free anymore: the Capital District Transportation Authority announced Tuesday it would resume collecting fares on Aug. 19.
In Schenectady, nearly two dozen nonprofits and agencies have joined the One Schenectady Coalition to coordinate food distribution, referral to employment services and shelter.
Schimpf said they have had only “a few” potential coronavirus scares among individuals at shelters in the coalition, but no outbreaks.
“We were able to connect with Ellis, Public Health and the Department of Social Services to work together to make sure they were tested and we knew what we needed to do before they entered a shelter system, and then we set up, as a coalition, a place to keep them away from everybody.
Typically, in the shelter system you don’t have that,” said Schimpf.