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Combating the COVID-19 crisis with cash

Marco leaders join forces to help the needy

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Volunteer Kathy Swaja fills bags of fresh produce. Our Daily Bread food pantry fed 622 families on Marco Island last week, providing each with at least 45-50 lbs. of a variety of grocery items.

Four Marco women leaders are making it their mission to combat COVID-19 misery head on with financial support for people struggling to make ends meet.

And they're looking for donations, no matter how big or small.

"Some people have already pledged their stimulus checks," said Allyson Richards, a prolific YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y) volunteer.

"But we're also appealing to people who can help with just a few dollars, because it all mounts up."

Soon after the outbreak of the virus, she formed a reaction team along with the Y's CEO Cindy Love-Abounader, Our Daily Bread's Liz Pecora and Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce President Dianna Dohm.

The women are working with "Collier Comes Together for Coronavirus" under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Collier County, and Richards said potential beneficiaries are any needy people who live or work on Marco, Goodland or the Isles of Capri.

She said as of mid-last week, close to 150 requests for help had been submitted.

"Now we're going through the next batch," she said. "We give a portion based on what we have. So far we've given out about $15,000. People need money for the basics - rent, utilities, child care."

"Some people are in dire straits," Richards said. "Some come in tears, and some come to me personally. It's a horrible thing. They don't want to complain, but they have families to take care of."

Richards gave the assurance that local donations will benefit the designated local Marco, Goodland and Isles of Capri communities. Period.

"The foundation has a Marco fund, and people can contribute directly to Marco," she said. "When they donate, they just need to specify that."

To apply for assistance, call in at the Y on Sand Hill Road weekday mornings between 9 a.m. and noon, or print an online application at marcoymca.org.

To donate: Simply visit cfcollier.org. For more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.