‘Help Don’t Horde’ offers relief for those in need

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By ANTHONY FLORES

More and more people are facing empty grocery aisles due to public reaction to the COVID-19 virus, while some are dealing with a sudden lack of basic items.

RockPointe Church is working to help those in need through the creation of its “Help Don’t Horde” Facebook pages.

“We actually have three pages now,” said Missions Director Tracy Blackwell. “We have the Leander, the Liberty Hill one and there’s also a Cedar Park one. We have multiple moderators on each page. They make sure everybody stays on track and make sure it’s only used to post that you have something you’re willing to share or that you have a need.”

A telling sign of the needs that people are facing is the number of members on each page. Leander leads the way with almost 1,300 members already. In comparison, Liberty Hill follows with 282, and Cedar Park has 82 members.

“We wanted to bring some people together who can help each other,” said Blackwell. “Instead of the panic that’s happening, we wanted to reverse it positively.”

The creation of the pages was the brainchild of Beth Anderson, former Rockpointe Church children’s pastor. For the other members of the church, supporting the idea was an easy decision.

“Our church members kind of saw what was happening, and then we’re presented with this great idea to bring some people together,” said Blackwell.

The way the pages work is simple. Individuals share their need for particular items or offer things to share. Then those with a need or have the items can direct message the poster.

People have the option of giving items for free or charging for them with the caveat that they cannot charge more than the item’s original price. Although they have the option to charge for things, so far people aren’t going that route.

“The thing that we’ve seen is that people aren’t really charging for their items,” said Blackwell. “When asked how much an item is or what they can pay, I’d say 98 percent of the people are saying they don’t want any payment for their items. They’re actually wanting to help and give them away.”

For the few who are charging and accepting payments, money-lending apps like Venmo and Cashapp are the ways to go.
Hoping to avoid the chance of spreading the COVID-19 virus, item exchange is primarily through simple drop off.

“It’s exclusively like porch pickup kind of stuff,” said Blackwell. “Instead of face-to-face, they’re saying, ‘Let me leave it on the porch, and you can pick it up.’ They’re doing it through private messaging.”

The church itself is not accepting donations yet, developing a plan for what members specifically see a need for.

“We haven’t officially said, ‘Hey drop off your donations here,’ yet,” said Blackwell. “We want to be very intentional with what we’re asking for so that we don’t create a problem of collecting a bunch of things that people don’t need. Really right now, if you have cleaning supplies or toilet paper, then yes, we’ll absolutely accept that.”

While cleaning supplies and toilet paper are high priority items, Blackwell is noticing a growing demand for something else.

“Formula and baby wipes are starting to be a thing we’re seeing,” she said. “We’re seeing more and more people asking for formula because I think at first people bought a lot of it up, and that’s something that they have to have.”

As the demands and needs of people continue to change, the page and the church will adjust to follow suit.

“Once this part of it passes, we’ll have to transition these pages into something different,” said Blackwell.

While the rush on stores opened as a me-first approach to the pandemic sweeping the nation, pages like these are now showcasing the willingness of neighbors to help one another in trying times.

“We’re just so excited by the response, everyone on these pages have been so positive and willing to share what they have,” said Blackwell. “There have been people who say ‘I only have one pack of this, but I’ll split it in half, and I’ll give you half. It’s been really encouraging to see people banding together and really trying to help each other.”

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