2020 COVID-19 Relief at a Glance
The arrival of COVID-19 presented a complex set of challenges to social services providers. With caution and creativity, we have adapted how – and sometimes where – we provide our services, always with the goal of maximizing our ability to minister to those who need us.
Here is a look back at some of our COVID-19 response activities in 2020. Our work of providing pandemic-related aid continues, however, into the new year.
DECEMBER 2020: YEAR-END IMPACT
The infographic below illustrates a sampling of 2020 COVID-19 related services provided by the Catholic Charities of St. Louis Central Office and its eight agencies through yearend 2020. Other critical services provided include transportation, housing, medicine, personal protection equipment (PPE), personal care items, and household supplies.
JULY 2020: CATHOLIC CHARITIES, OPERATION FOOD SEARCH HOST 2nd DRIVE-UP FOOD & SUPPLY EVENT
On July 24, we once again partnered with Operation Food Search to co-host a drive-through food and personal care item distribution day at our central office, 4445 Lindell Blvd.
We were blessed to serve approximately 500 households with personal care products, shelf-stable food items, sandwiches, produce, and dairy products. The distribution team included employees and volunteers from Catholic Charities, Operation Food Search, Sysco, and the Missouri National Guard. St. Louis Police Department North Patrol helped with traffic control.
“We were once again pleased to collaborate with Operation Food Search, Sysco, the National Guard and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for the distribution event,” said Catholic Charities President Theresa Ruzicka. “While it was a very hot day, we were willing to persevere because of our neighbors in need during this pandemic. It is these sort of collaborative efforts that bring out the best in people and remind us we must care for each other.”
“The pandemic continues to drastically affect both our resources and our community’s rising level of food insecurity,” said Kristen Wild, Executive Director of Operation Food Search. “We are extremely fortunate to team up with organizations like Catholic Charities in our fight to alleviate hunger by providing support to families who need our assistance now more than ever.”
JUNE 2020: CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. LOUIS DISTRIBUTES 2,000 MASKS FOR HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Representatives from Catholic Charities of St. Louis visited the St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s John C. Murphy Health Center on Friday, June 5, to pick up 200,000 3-ply disposable masks purchased by the Public Health Department with Federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding.
“It is critical to us that these tools and supplies get in the hands of our most vulnerable residents as quickly as possible,” said Spring Schmidt, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Health. “We appreciate our partnership with Catholic Charities of St. Louis and other vital partners who are helping us distribute masks to the community.”
The masks were quickly delivered to all eight Catholic Charities as well as to Archdiocese offices; Regina Cleri, a residence for retired priests; the Catholic Charities Central Office, and Operation Food Search.
“As a family of eight social services agencies directly assisting hundreds of adults and children daily, our need for personal protection equipment is great and ongoing.” said Don Halpin, Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer. “We are grateful to the St. Louis County Department of Health for this generous supply of surgical-grade masks to help protect those in our care and those who provide that care.”
MAY 2020: CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. LOUIS, OPERATION FOOD SEARCH HOST FIRST DRIVE-UP FOOD & SUPPLY EVENT
There were plenty of smiles and mostly sunshine while more than 450 families were served at a three-hour food and supply distribution event held May 16 at the Catholic Charities office, 4445 Lindell Blvd.
Catholic Charities provided gift cards, personal hygiene products and cleaning supplies, as well as hand sanitizers and face masks. Sysco St. Louis contributed a variety of food items including fresh produce, dairy, cheese and juice. Operation Food Search provided meat, cheese, sandwiches and cleaning supplies. Representatives from the Gateway Grizzlies professional baseball organization (including mascot Izzy) also stopped by to drop off food.
About 40 volunteers from Catholic Charities, Operation Food Search, and the National Guard helped with loading supplies and other logistics that helped the event run smoothly. St. Louis Police Department assisted with traffic control. Catholic Charities volunteers included employees and their families, donors, board members, and members of the Catholic Charities Young Professionals group.
“We are pleased to be able to combine our resources and experience with Operation Food Search and Sysco to connect people with a variety of basic necessities,” said Theresa Ruzicka, President, Catholic Charities of St. Louis. “It’s core to our overall mission of serving people in need and just one part of our coordinated COVID-19 relief efforts.”
According to Kristen Wild, Executive Director at Operation Food Search, the rate of food insecurity in the State of Missouri was 14 percent before the pandemic and now sits at 41 percent.
In addition to the 500 bags of personal care and cleaning items and nearly $13,000 in gift cards distributed at the May 16 event, the Catholic Charities Central Office has provided nearly $200,000 in COVID-19 related relief in the form of gift cards and direct financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utilities and other immediate needs.
See a related article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 18, 2020.
MAY 2020: CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. LOUIS CREATES CALL CENTER TO ASSIST WITH COVID-19 RELIEF
On May 4, the Catholic Charities Central Office launched a dedicated Call Center to address the growing number of requests for COVID-19 related assistance
Callers to the office’s main line seeking assistance for hardships attributable to the pandemic crisis are connected with a call center representative. Additionally, United Way 211 callers seeking COVID-19 related assistance – including rent, mortgage, utilities and other direct aid – may also be referred to the Catholic Charities Call Center.
In the Call Center’s first few weeks, representatives are already managing about 70 calls per day and more than $100,000 in aid has been provided through the call center.
You can read more about this new initiative in the recent St. Louis Review article, Catholic Charities opens call center to handle upswing in need (May 14, 2020).
APRIL 2020: LARGE FOOD DONATION ARRIVES FOR CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. LOUIS AGENCIES
On April 22, a refrigerated truck filled with more than a ton of donated fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and other food essentials arrived at Marygrove in Florissant, one of four Catholic Charities agencies that benefited from the large donation. Representatives from Good Shepherd Children & Family Services, Queen of Peace Center, and St. Patrick Center were on hand at Marygrove to receive portions of the donated items.
The large donation was organized by top chef and restaurant consultant Rex Hale in cooperation with STL Foodworks; Jack Whisnant of Rain Crow Ranch in Doniphan, Mo. and Lanter Distributing.
“Pulling together a donation of this magnitude was a labor of love and an exercise in generosity,” said Catholic Charities of St. Louis President Theresa Ruzicka, who helped load donations at STL Food Works. “All of our agencies are busy finding ways to safely meet growing needs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Having strong community partners like these helps us serve even more people, including those who are finding themselves needing assistance for the first time in their lives.”
The food will be used to prepare meals for residential clients at the four recipient agencies, as well as walk-in clients at St. Patrick Center. Hundreds will benefit from this generosity.
MARCH 2020: A MESSAGE FROM CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. LOUIS PRESIDENT THERESA RUZICKA
Dear Friends of Catholic Charities,
Every day our eight agencies provide help and hope for people in need. We have been doing so, in good times and in bad, since 1912. The COVID-19 virus presents a complex set of challenges, and we are monitoring recommendations from health officials to protect the people in our care and in the community at large.
At the same time, we are working even harder within our own organization, as well as with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and other community partners, to maximize our ability to minister to those who need us.
Through our work, Catholic Charities honors a 2,000-year legacy of Catholics responding to the Gospel call to love our neighbors. With the help of generous supporters, we are able to impact the lives of more than 100,000 people each year.
I echo Archbishop Carlson’s recent message to the faithful: “In this time of uncertainty, God has given us an opportunity to come together and show the strength of our community – and as Catholics, to deliver a message of hope, courage and faith.”
Now and in the coming months, we are called to be even more creative and resourceful to minister to the increased needs of those who are poor and vulnerable. Your prayers and support for our mission are especially needed!
With sincere gratitude,
Theresa E. Ruzicka
of St. Louis
P.S. The best and easiest way to help during this time is with a monetary gift. You can donate online or mail your gift to Catholic Charities, PO Box 952393, St. Louis MO 63195. To limit exposure to COVID-19, most agencies are temporarily limiting volunteerism and acceptance of in-kind gifts; however, as urgent agency needs arise, we will post them on this page.
MARCH 2020: COVID RESPONSE VIDEO MESSAGE FROM ROBERT J. CARLSON, (FORMER) ARCHBISHOP OF ST. LOUIS
The Catholic Charities Family of Agencies
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services: https://cardinalritterseniorservices.org/COVID-19/
Good Shepherd Children & Family Services: https://goodshepherdstl.org/covid-19-shepherding-families-crisis/
Queen of Peace Center: https://www.qopcstl.org/
Saint Louis Counseling: https://saintlouiscounseling.org/covid19/
Saint Martha’s Hall: http://saintmarthas.org/
St. Francis Community Services: https://sfcsstl.org/
St. Patrick Center: https://stpatrickcenter.org/we-will-get-through-this/