By Steve Large

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A Stockton-based nonprofit is helping so many families with COVID-19 burial expenses, it is now running out of money for financial assistance.

Sammy Nunez is the founder of Stockton’s Fathers and Families.

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“It’s precious lives that have been lost,” Nunez said. “This was unlike nothing we’ve ever experienced. We were getting calls all the time.”

The nonprofit helps the underserved Stockton community survive. Now the coronavirus death toll here is so high, Nunez has set up a coronavirus “crisis” line, helping dozens of families pay for funerals. The need is so great he is now capping payments at $500 a family.

“This was a kind of internal conversation that we had, ‘how can we make certain that we have enough to support many families,’ because we knew that there was going to be more and more families requesting some support,” Nunez said.

Stockton’s Mike Campos is recovering from the coronavirus after his father Arturo passed away from it at just 59 years old. Fathers and Families helped his family pay for funeral expenses.

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“It eased the family, it eased the hearts, it was one step closer to getting the money that was needed,” Campos said.

A report issued last week showed COVID-19 is the number one cause of death in San Joaquin County in 2020, ahead of heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We want to give them an honorable dignified funeral,” Nunez said.

In Stockton, coronavirus is hitting so hard, a nonprofit helping families finance funerals is overwhelmed. Nunez said Fathers and Families got requests to help with two more funerals on Monday alone.

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