When people are experiencing uncertainty, it can often be the smallest gesture that makes the biggest impact. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, the staff of the Covington Day Reporting Center in Covington, Louisiana is doing what it can to show program participants their thoughts are with them and their families in this difficult time.
As part of an initiative organized by DRC Program Manager Annette Ellis and Target Reverse Logistics Manager Debbie Eiberger, the local Target store has been donating large quantities of essential items to the Covington DRC each week, which employees then use to assemble personalized care packages and drop them off to more than 20 participants’ homes.
Since the DRC is currently enforcing a no-contact policy, the weekly packages are dropped off on participants’ porches and doorsteps by staff wearing personal protective equipment and adhering to CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines. The packages typically include toiletries, dry goods, snacks, frozen foods, baby diapers and baby wipes, as well as flyers on handwashing and sanitizing properly.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to have participants and their family members call us to thank us for showing them that we value them as people and not just a number to be counted,” said Ellis.
Covington DRC staff have regularly been putting in long hours to ensure that the Target care packages get to participants in a timely manner, driving around to drop off packages at more than 20 participants’ homes per week. Each weekly trip takes about three and half hours and covers five different localities, with the furthest about 40 minutes away from the DRC. And, over Easter weekend, a group of employee volunteers dropped off a special holiday surprise to participants’ homes: Easter baskets with candy, stuffed animals and coloring books for the kids.
“Especially right now, this project has been uplifting to all of our spirits,” said DRC Case Manager Guillermo Pina. “I know it’s a time of need and everyone is scared, and I feel good being able to help these families who really need the help.”
According to Client Services Specialist Tynesheia Williams, being involved in this project has already taught her how to better serve her clients’ needs, even though they will be unable to talk face-to-face until in-person programming resumes.
“Right now, we’re missing [participants] just as they’re missing us, so to meet them in their own environments gives us a better vision of their daily life at home and the things they go through,” she said.
In addition to driving other employees to drop off the care packages, Covington DRC Van Driver Michael Moore also goes to Target to pick up the donation boxes every week; then, everyone in the office works together to make up the packages and personalize them for each family.
“It’s good to know that in this time of uncertainty, we’re able to help these participants and their families, who have already gone through a lot of struggle in their lives,” Moore said. “These are extraordinary circumstances, and in such a time, the help is that much more valuable and useful and meaningful for people who could really use it.”