By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
Dearborn, Mich. – In response to the latest spike in Coronavirus cases in Michigan and the United States, ACCESS has begun distributing care packages to families in need. The effort hopes to distribute 1,250 care packages, with the help of the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities and the UAW Local 600.
Over 1,200 families within ACCESS’ network of influence were identified by school officials as needing extra services. According to research from Columbia University, the rate of families experiencing poverty has risen higher this year than the period before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Back in March, a $1,200 check combined with a $600 increase to unemployment benefits only stalled the rise in poverty.
At the first distribution in Dearborn, families lined up in their cars for a volunteer to provide the care package. Families received necessities like bathroom tissue and laundry supplies, along with card games and other small toys. According to a press release, most of the items are intended to “help families stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as children’s educational games and activities.”
“We thought about what the essential items that families were going through the most, especially since now that everyone’s home,” said Anisa Sahoubah, Director of the Youth and Education Department of ACCESS. “And that’s how we determined what goes in here. As you can see, we have laundry detergent, we have paper towel, sanitizers, wipes, so all sorts of things that families with young children will need.”
Sahoubah says that this distribution will be the first of a series. Although they won’t all be happening before the new year, other distributions will take place in Melvindale and Detroit soon.
The effort is a part of ACCESS’ drive-thru series. Previously, ACCESS has offered voter registration for the election, using the drive-thru format to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“This distribution is a part of a series of events that we’re having during the pandemic, just to make things a little bit easier for families,” Sahoubah said. “For this particular one, we received the names from the schools, so we’re doing it here in South Dearborn first.”
The effort called on volunteers with UAW Local 600. Sahoubah says that the process took a lot of coordinating in order for the families to receive some of what they need.
“We had a lot of volunteers help us with the assembly,” Sahoubah said. “So this was a multi day event. We obviously had to purchase everything, and then we had to assemble them and now we’re in distribution day.”
ACCESS is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the United States. Their stated mission is to empower communities in Southeast Michigan to improve their economic, social and cultural well-being through an extensive network of health, education, employment and social services programming.