Group to feed healthcare workers, fund to help students in need: Some of the ways Triangle moms are giving back during COVID-19

From Clayton to downtown Raleigh, we met some of the everyday citizens of the Triangle called to action by the crisis of COVID-19.

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"Every small act of kindness can change the world," said Melissa Brown who along with Bev Schechtman launched their Front Line Appreciation Group on Facebook just this past Sunday.

The Clayton moms are now full-time partners in giving back

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"Two days ago we didn't know each other," Brown said. "And now we're talking ten times a day."

Brown and Schechtman were inspired by a similar effort in New Jersey to raise money to buy meals from local restaurants to deliver to health care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

It's two-pronged goal: a boost for small business hit by the impact to restaurants and a show of gratitude for our health care heroes.

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"I touched base with the HR administrator at Johnston Health both in Smithfield and Clayton. He said right now, Smithfield is the hospital where they're admitting a lot of COVID-19 patients in intensive care," Schechtman said. "So, that's where we're gonna start it first. But he seemed super-excited."

Brown added, "(Health care workers) can't leave their entire shift. The (hospital) cafeteria is closed because they don't want a group of people there. So to just get a meal delivered from somebody means everything to them."

In downtown Raleigh, Patti Merz is focused on filling another gap widened by the health crisis.

She's board president of the Rawlins Fund, a charitable group of parents and alumni of Wiley Elementary School. In normal times, the fund ensures the school's families in need have food or a child who may have broken their glasses can get a new pair.

"So the teachers will call us up, we'll be able to get the funds for the glasses by the end of the day. That's the kind of thing we typically handle," Merz described.

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But nothing has been typical since the pandemic took hold. And the Rawlins Fund is struggling to keep up with the need.

"Things are evolving quickly. And we're having to mobilize quickly," Merz said. "We're getting requests for rent assistance, for school supplies, supplies for students to use at home. The requests are getting bigger and they're coming faster and harder."

Donations to the Rawlins Fund can made be made at Rawlinsfund.org.

Brown and Schechtman's Front Line Appreciation Group had 60 members sign up in just two days. But they need more donations, of any size, and would like your help.
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