CEDAR CREST, N.M. (KRQE) – People in the East Mountains are connecting online to help each other during the novel coronavirus pandemic. It started as neighbors asking if anyone needed a gallon of milk or a roll of toilet paper, but has since grown into a much bigger operation.
Stores have recently hosted special hours for the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, but a lot of people still can’t get out of their homes. That’s why this group of neighbors is stepping up to help where they can.
Walk down the aisles and see long lines and empty shelves. It’s almost a daily sight lately in stores across the country and right here in New Mexico.
“I was appalled at how many elderly people were in there, just looking lost and anxious with empty carts,” said Caprice Insco, a group member.
In the East Mountains, resources can be slim. It can be especially difficult for those who can’t get out.
“Some of us don’t have cell service,” said Insco. “We certainly don’t have delivery services, so we really have to depend on each other.”
Neighbors want to give back, so they made a Facebook group, ‘Covid19 Resources for East Mountains.’ They’re helping seniors, medically-compromised and families with everything from grocery pick-ups to household needs.
“We understand what it means to be good neighbors,” said Jessica Velasquez, another group member. “Already in the group, we’ve seen folks offering to drive. ‘Hey, I’m going into town. Does anyone need anything?’ ‘Yes, please, can you pick me up a gallon of milk or a roll of toilet paper?'”
Group organizers say many people are also quick to volunteer.
“A lot of people are offering to help, more than are even asking,” said Insco. “I am so, just, overwhelmed by the response we’ve had from everybody.”
“I went shopping Monday for two different people. They just sent me grocery lists and I went and fought the crowds and got as much as I could for them,” said Roger Brown, a group member. “Since the Walmart caught on fire, they’re not doing deliveries or even takeouts, curbside.”
They’re also making ‘phone trees’ to reach out to neighbors in need who may not have online access. From the Knolls to Estancia, these neighbors are ready for whatever challenges the coronavirus brings their way.
“East Mountain folks are used to doing their shopping ahead of time, we’re used to buying in bulk,” said Velasquez. “We know how to hunker down through a storm and we know how to reach out to our neighbors in times of need.”
The ‘Covid19 Resources for East Mountains’ group is on Facebook. The 400+ members put together a list of resources from shopping requests to volunteer sign-ups. Additionally, they’ve put together a list of contact information for those in need:
- Hotline for information from the New Mexico Department of Health – 1-855-600-3453.
- For information on childcare, loss of income, supplies, food – 1-833-551-0518
- State Department of Aging – 1-800-432-2080
- Covid19 Resources for East Mountains Facebook group – 1-505-585-1055, firstname.lastname@example.org
The group has also created a “virtual tip jar” to help area businesses. They’ve put a Google Doc online for those who want to sign up to donate or receive donations.
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