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Delco Feeds the Frontlines

by Dennis Finnochiaro 

“It’s 11 a.m., and no one has gotten to even get to breakfast yet,” healthcare frontline worker Juliet Thompson-Robinson said.

Those working in the hospital of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, find their days emotionally, physically and mentally draining. Some days, they even work through mealtimes. Overwhelming doesn’t quite describe it.

The citizens of Delaware County — what locals lovingly call Delco — decided enough was enough, putting social media to the best use possible.

Delco’s Happy Hour

Phil Sanders enjoyed scrolling through the Delco Facebook group created for those quarantined in the area. The group, called Delco Happy Hour, proved a fun way of visiting with locals. After spending some time chatting with others, Phil posted a question in the group: Could he send food to nurses and doctors in the hospitals? Could they even accept deliveries?

“All of a sudden, I’m being flooded by likes and comments on Facebook,” Phil said. “People tell me I should set up a page so that more people can contribute. So along comes Facebook member Lorraine Jensen, and she creates the Delco Feeds the Frontlines page and makes me the admin. … (O)ver the last almost two weeks, we now have over 4,000 unbelievably amazing members and have made hundreds of food donations across the county as well as in Delaware and Philadelphia.”

When things grew a little too overwhelming, Phil looked to Tom McKeown and Melissa Fritz. 

“Tom has been a tremendous help behind the scenes,” Phil said. “… He set up a signup calendar on the site so that we do not overlap when making donations.” 

Local restaurants also joined the page, offering discounts or even sending food to the frontline for free. 

“Deborah Ann from LaSpada’s in Milmont has been heavily involved and very gracious, along with Monaghan’s Pub in Essington,” Phil said. 

Phil always tags the restaurants that help, hoping this in turn helps their local businesses stay afloat.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Most of the 4,000 people who liked the Facebook page volunteer their time or money. They pay for food, drop it off, and some even make masks.

“I tell everyone all the time, even if you do not have the means to send your own donation, a simple like, comment, share, or best yet, invite on Facebook goes a long way and really helps the cause,” Phil said.

The group inspired others beyond Delco, too. Chuck Bradley, a former Delco man who moved south, saw what the Facebook group members were doing and started his own page in Florida. 

“My advice for anyone trying to set up something similar would be to try and stay calm and just roll with it,” Phil said. “I have had a few moments where I was freaking out just realizing how big this was getting and that, in all honesty, … (I) was just winging it. … Just take it day by day and realize no matter what, even if it ended today, we have still helped so many.”

The page helps all those working on the frontlines of this crisis. Heather Wiegand Beurket is one of those frontliners.

“This weekend was truly horrendous,” she said. “I am emotionally, mentally and physically drained, yet we had some amazing people who stepped up to help and … send us food all weekend. I just wanted to let you all know what an absolute difference it makes to our psyche to know that people see and feel for what we are going through. You are all making a huge difference. Thank you again.”

What started as a simple question turned into something greater than Phil ever realized or even hoped. 

“I literally am just a guy from Delco who was making a simple donation, and this entire community has grabbed the ball and ran with it,” he said. “They deserve all of the credit, as they are making this happen.”

Photo courtesy of Phil Sanders

Thanks, Delco. You’re reminding all of us that even small acts of generosity can mean a whole lot. And maybe even turn into something bigger than we first thought possible.

This story was originally published in the TRIBAL under the TRIBAL Premium Partner Program. More information about TRIBAL can be found at https://tribalapp.com/.

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