While the spread of COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the economy, forcing businesses to close and leaving workers missing paychecks, a group of Ditmas Park do-gooders are raising funds to provide essential supplies for their neighbors in need.
Since launching an online fundraiser earlier this week, volunteers with People In Need, a central Brooklyn non-profit, have raised more than $4,000 to provide groceries for the elderly, single parents, those who are low-income, and anyone else who has found that they are struggling during the global pandemic.
“We have a lot of immigrants who don’t speak English and they don’t know how to access certain things,” said Nowshin Ali, founder of People In Need. “They don’t have enough money to buy stuff and store it at home.”
Ali and her team of volunteers have so far spent around $1,000 on groceries, some of which they deliver around Ditmas Park and Kensington. The rest, they distribute out of Ali’s Coney Island Avenue restaurant, Jalsa, which has an empty dining room due to the city’s mandate that restaurants operate on take-out and delivery only.
On Tuesday, the volunteers had made drop-offs to 15 families and helped countless more out of Jalsa.
On top of financial donations, many neighbors have donated groceries as well, with huge portions of pasta and flour being donated. People in Need has also seen an outpouring of new volunteers, with more locals looking to do good signing up to help out than organizers ever anticipated.
“The response has been incredible,” said Misha Kahn, a volunteer. “Just in 24 hours a lot of people have been reaching out.”
The volunteers say they’re just getting started, and that they plan on helping out their neighbors for as long as the crisis continues.
“As long as people are in need we plan to serve them,” said Kahn. “This is definitely going to be a long term project.”