Douglas overflows with helpers during pandemic

Lifelong resident Jenni Nieft brings a bag of necessities to a home Tuesday. Nieft is one of many Douglas residents who are offering to grocery shop for citizens like the elderly or medically compromised who should stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s a famous quote by Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers, that he used to comfort children during various tragedies: “During times of disaster my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

While the country is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in businesses and schools closing or drastically reducing services, store shelves that should be filled with the basic necessities are often sitting bare.

The governor has issued a mandate that prohibits groups of 10 people or more from gathering, and the state health department has recommended that senior citizens, those with underlying health issues and immune compromised people stay home. This has resulted in a part of the Douglas community that isn’t able to run to the store for a few things or run errands.

Enter the volunteers.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people that truly need it,” Perry Hershberger said. He, along with a number of others, have stepped up to help those who are greatly affected by the pandemic.

“Senior citizens, the disabled or those on a budget that can’t buy items in bulk or prepare for events like this are in need,” Hershberger explained, and this is what neighbors do for each other.

Last week local stores had shelves that were sitting empty as people were buying more than usual of daily products like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, cleaning products and even cheese, bread and frozen foods.

“We saw what was going on and bought two cases of toilet paper,” Hershberger said. “Not for our use but specifically for the elderly and others who need it. If they need some, we give it out for free.”

Others have joined in as helpers as offers quickly spread on social media pages.

“I had one of my dog grooming clients call because he didn’t have any disinfectants,” Jenni Nieft said. “I always have some on hand so I just brought some over to him.”

Nieft works from home , so she is jumping to help.

“They need to stay home. They shouldn’t be going out,” Nieft said. “If I can help anyone I will.”

Douglas has pulled together to make sure that the community keeps going strong during this new and unchartered territory.

Some hospital supplies, like face masks, have been running low so a group of sewers and crafters have been making cloth masks that can be used.

Safeway and Douglas Grocery have has stepped up, offering special hours for those in need or other special accommodations. Check out the COVID-19 updates in this issue for more information.

All around Douglas you can find the helpers, those who are ready to help those who can’t.

“If I can do something for the community, then I will,” Hershberger said.

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