Mini Stories: Providing Free Meals for Children Impacted by Georgia School Closures
Editor’s note: During this unprecedented time, we’re highlighting the individual acts of kindness from our global seller community. Now through May, we’ll share a story every week about one of our sellers on how they’re paying it forward in our Mini Stories column.
Around the U.S. and abroad, schools have closed for the academic year, as social distancing measures are being implemented amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, children who rely on cafeteria lunches no longer have access to regular meals with the temporary shuttering of schools.
To help alleviate food insecurity within her own southern community, longtime eBay seller Laurie Wong is working with local government and schools in Powder Springs, Georgia, to provide free meals to children impacted by the closures. As of April 10, Laurie and her team have distributed 3,700 lunch kits for students in the area, and over 2,500 boxes of groceries also to local families just within March.
“Be it an individual crisis or national disaster, we are here and open to serve,” Laurie said.
Laurie is the founder of Reflections of Trinity, a community resource center and food pantry with a mission to serve those in need.
Since 2005, Laurie’s nonprofit has been selling clothing, accessories, household items and furniture donations on eBay to help sustain its operations and provide support for local residents.
Laurie’s nonprofit also long has demonstrated a commitment to supporting communities in crisis -- in 2005, she and her team helped those displaced during Hurricane Katrina and continues to send provisions every hurricane season to FEMA-declared disaster areas.
Public service also runs through Laurie’s family. Her son, Matthew, is a Marine Corp veteran and a paramedic with critical care expertise in using ventilators.
Matthew was deployed to New Orleans, Louisiana, in late March to care for COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at the city’s convention center, which has been converted into a field hospital, Laurie said. His knowledge of caring for patients on ventilators will be useful as he joins health care workers from across the nation to help Louisiana residents over the coming weeks.
Matthew received the call to join medical volunteers on a Sunday morning and left that afternoon for New Orleans, Laurie said.
“This pandemic has brought out the best in us as a country,” Laurie said. “Folks are willing to do whatever it takes to help another in distress, and that keeps those of us in essential services inspired to keep on going in the face of tremendous uncertainty. We know we are not facing this alone.”
Reflections of Trinity has been assigned three people from the National Guard to help pick up, offload trucks, conduct inventory and distribute food to those in need. The additional support was a welcome relief for Laurie, who said she was grateful for the boost in managing the food distribution.
“Having three members of the National Guard has allowed us to stay on top of the increasing demand for help with groceries as well as keeping our pantry clean and sanitized,” she said. “We are averaging 80-90 new families registering for support each week, and we’re currently serving between 500-600 families weekly as well, since the shelter-in-place order was issued. We desperately needed strong help in order to serve the community efficiently and with excellence.”
For now, Laurie’s brick-and-mortar thrift store has closed its doors to customers due to the pandemic. Her business is relying heavily on eBay sales for program revenue, she said.
“I am so grateful to have an eBay store that provides the funds to keep our pantry open and stocked with food,” Laurie said. “eBay has literally been a lifesaver for us and the 3,000-plus folks we serve each month.”
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For more eBay news and updates related to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our seller community center. For information on government support for small businesses in the U.S. and abroad, visit eBay’s Government Relations site at eBayMainStreet.com/covid19.