By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A crisis period like the coronavirus is the time when local non-profits may be needed the most. Hundreds of community members have stepped up to help local food banks with their free time.

With each box, 17-year-old Katie Stachowicz packs than just food at the Yolo Food Bank in Woodland. She’s packing hope for hundreds in Yolo County, desperate for a meal when some can’t even leave their homes or are unable to even afford food.

“This is a time to not be afraid of each other and not physically be together, but emotionally come together,” Stachowicz said. She started volunteering only days ago.

“I may as well put all this free time I have to good use,” she said.

Hundreds volunteers have filled the Yolo Food Bank since the coronavirus crisis began and in turn, filling a much-needed space in their local communities.

READ ALSO: National Guard Provides Assistance At Sacramento Food Bank

Robb Davis, the Yolo Food Bank Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said community support has been overwhelming, in a good way.

“I’m blown away by it,” Davis said. “What it shows me is the people in this county – they love their communities.”

But the Yolo Food Bank isn’t the only nonprofit seeing a surge in requests to help. The WEAVE, Inc. women’s shelter CEO, Beth Hassett, said they had to turn away volunteers. They shuttered their stores and moved their services online.

“We had a wave of people trying to figure out how to come help,” Hassett said, “We learned very quickly we can’t have people coming in.”

Hassett said like many other nonprofits, WEAVE may see future financial struggles from this crisis.

The United Way California Capital Region was forced to cancel free their tax help services that are typically given each year. CEO Stephanie Bray said they also canceled their biggest fundraiser of the year. Things like this can make a long-term impact on nonprofits, especially smaller ones.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure those nonprofits are around,” said Bray.

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That included establishing a relief fund. It’s designed to keep several local nonprofits afloat.

“They’re an essential part of what makes our region thrive,” said Bray.

Essential, like the volunteers currently needed on the front lines of our local food banks, packing cars and delivering food to the most vulnerable, like Mayte Salcedo.

“If you’re in a position where you’re blessed and in a position to help people, why not do it?” Salcedo said.

Volunteers at the Yolo Food Bank said their volunteers are properly distanced from each other. Home-meal delivery drivers are staggered to show up at different times throughout the afternoon.

Because not everyone can help the community in person, nonprofit leaders suggest the best way to help at this time would be through financial donations.

Heather Janssen

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