The VFW Riders Post 3762 is attempting to work with the Fayette County community to help the elderly and disabled during the current COVID-19 pandemic as social distancing continues along with people continuously bulk-purchasing — making it difficult for many to access basic groceries and care items.
“When we watch the press conferences every day, like other people, when the governor was speaking, we (then) saw everybody rushing into the grocery stores and bulk buying,” said Duke Hanscel, the president of the VFW Riders Post 3762. “You know in our community we have a lot of elderly. We have a lot of handicapped, less fortunate that can’t get to the stores in time. And by the time the trucks are loaded and the shelves are stocked, the stuff is mostly gone. So the VFW Riders called an emergency meeting and talked about it and we put this together in like 30 minutes.”
Originally, what they put together was a plan to purchase $500 worth of bulk purchases in canned goods and household necessities every week, and then deliver those supplies to the elderly and handicapped on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
Although the initial plan was for $500 to be spent, Hanscel explained that the limit had to be increased to $1,000 a week due to the number of calls they received from people needing assistance.
“We’re going to all the grocery stores,” said Hanscel. “We’re not going to buy from just one store and leave a store empty. So, all the Riders are going out to different stores, including Dollar Generals and such, and grab them food and household items. We’ll get together, we’ll box everything up and we’ll start delivering.”
If there are supplies left over each week, they will be donated to local food pantries to spread the assistance further, although due to the number of people requesting assistance, it’s unknown if any or how much will be left over to help the pantries.
Hanscel explained they had and still have calls coming in requesting assistance approximately every 10 minutes with the majority being from the elderly.
“So far we’ve had a ton of support,” said Hanscel. “We’ve already had a few businesses reach out to us and they’re donating and we’ve had donations come in from Kentucky, Florida. So, people are paying attention and hopefully others start getting out there and doing the same thing.”
On Tuesday, Winner’s Jeffersonville Market called the VFW Riders to allow them to come in and purchase $450 worth of items after a shipment came in, and Pettit’s in New Holland worked with the VFW Riders so they could purchase “a couple hundred worth of items there.”
“All the local stores are pitching in,” he said.
The organization recently picked up $1,300 worth of clothing items that were donated by the Walmart in London, Ohio.
“It’s like hats, bras, jackets. They may not be needed now, but it will come in handy later on in the community,” explained Hanscel.
Monetary donations are the best way to assist with the program, according to Hanscel. The Southern Ohio Buckeye Bikers have made a monetary donation and will be assisting the VFW Riders with volunteers. Randy Newland will be volunteering on Saturdays and has donated the use of “The Party Bus” and the fuel being used for the bus to deliver the items.
“We’re just — we’re throwing in ($1,000) a week to make these purchases. We’re going to try to stretch that as far as we can, it’s just the uncertainty of not knowing when this is going to end,” he said. “Hopefully we can do it as long as it’s needed.”
The first delivery day will be this Saturday. If you know someone in need or would like to join in this cause, please contact Hanscel at 740-505-4459 or the VFW public affairs officer, Ben Everhart, at 937-366-8618.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.