RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (WTVD) -- Coronavirus concerns have many people avoiding public places where they could be exposed, and some also have cash flow problems after layoffs or business shutdowns.
Those groups found a lifeline in the Research Triangle Foundation's parking lot between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, with dance music and dozens of smiling volunteers welcoming them the Fuel The Vote drive-through event.
They didn't have to leave their cars to receive free food that was already prepackaged, a blessing for people like the ones Priscilla Lewis and a neighbor in her car came to help.
"They can't get out," said Lewis, eyes twinkling above her mask. "And she's here for her family, they're on disability and different other things. So yes, it's very important!"
Jordan Brooks, a representative of cosponsor When We All Vote invited everyone in need to receive "Twenty-five hundred boxes of shelf-stable groceries, and 5,000 meals for families. You can just come up and get it! Things like rice, and beans, and peanut butter. Things like that'll stay for a while. And the small boxed over there are meals, things like sandwiches and apples and things like that."
Those driving to the campus for food also had the chance to make sure they're ready for November elections, with an assist from more volunteers at a brightly colored table full of information from cosponsor You Can Vote.
"For people who are not registered, or don't know what they need to do," said Lewis. "Everybody thinks you just go to the polls to vote, but there are so many options now. Early voting, vote by mail."
A group called Project Isaiah is behind the activity. It's made nearly three million meals available to people in need since the start of the pandemic. Also supporting the combination food and voter registration drive: Wondaland. The United State of Women, and the office of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel.
Brooks says those who missed the opportunity Saturday can still get free food later.
"We have lots of great partners in the area, so we'll make sure to put up on our website all of the food partners in the area, such as the Food Bank of North Carolina. In addition, you can go to WhenWeAllVote.org to get registered or you can go to NCVoter.org to get registered," she said.
Lewis hopes more people will take advantage of the opportunity: "I'm out here driving somebody who doesn't have a car, can't drive. And I think if everybody would help somebody, we would be much better off!"