When the Bunker Hill Associates get together to help the community, it’s usually a grand time at the Knights of Columbus Hall where fundraising is lucrative and fun at the same time.
However, with the COVID-19 response eliminating such gatherings, and also creating a need to still step up and help, the Associates have turned to a virtual form of fundraising to help those who are most affected by the radical changes right now.
President Maureen Collier, Vice President Jimmy Lister and former President Kim Mahoney started last week organizing an online raffle that will be for gift cards to local restaurants – including the Brewer’s Fork, Pier 6, Monument Restaurant, and the Warren Tavern.
By buying $4,000 worth of gift cards to raffle off at RallyUp.com – which will be drawn for on April 24 – it’s helping the restaurant workers and owners that are hurting right now and have always been generous over the years. At the same time, it helps the Associates to start and sustain a grocery delivery effort to elderly and shut-ins throughout the Town.
“We have a high population of shut-ins in the Town,” said Collier. “They are not able to get out and go to the supermarket. We don’t want them to go out. They don’t even want them going out now to doctor’s visits. I feel like it’s our job as a community right now to make sure they are safe.”
Said Mahoney, “Those elderly and shut-ins are our target audience right now after that we’ll explore how to help others in need. Now, though, they are the primary need for our effort.”
Lister said the three of them connected by phone and decided the organization needed to do something, but they wanted to make sure they weren’t repeating other efforts. Soon, enough, they settled on the idea of helping restaurants through the purchase of gift cards, and also helping the elderly get staples that weren’t coming through other services like Meals on Wheels.
He reached out to a resident of Charlestown who works for the wholesale food provider Baldor in Chelsea. They are currently putting together a confidential list and making sure they buy just enough and buy the right things.
“We want to step in and fill the gaps and make sure no one is forgotten in the neighborhood right now,” said Lister. “We wanted to find a way to keep this going beyond one time. We will get out on the other side, but it’s about getting out of as best as possible too. If we can bridge the gaps, it’s a successful project.”
Collier and Lister said after surveying directors of senior buildings and other caregivers they learned it was staple items that were needed, like peanut butter, milk, cans of tuna, juices and other such items.
They said they hope to have Baldor deliver to large buildings by the beginning of next week, with future deliveries coming in the weeks afterward and with the same system. Individual deliveries would be also required and they will use their volunteer base for that, making sure everyone is wearing the appropriate gear and protections.
Mahoney said it has all been planned from a distance, which has been challenging. The usual planning meetings at the Knights cannot happen, so it has been up to a select few to hit the phone tree with calls, texts and e-mails.
“We’re not even able to meet as a group,” she said. “It’s the first time in 35 years we can’t get together as a group.”
Added Collier, “However, we have moved into an age where we can meet online. Everyone in the Associates brings their own piece to the table and everyone wants to help.” To find out more about the grocery effort, residents of large senior buildings are encouraged to talk to their building advocates. To buy a raffle ticket online for the effort, go to https://go.rallyup.com/bunkerhillassociates.