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A collaboration between the Pay it Forward program in Manchester and the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County (FFDC) continues to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with grants and donations.

Speaking for the FFDC COVID Relief Fund, board member Lisa Guetzko credits Mindi Jackson, a nurse at Regional Medical Center, as being the inspiration for the FFDC partnering in the community and county relief efforts through Jackson’s Pay it Forward program.

“Two weeks before our foundation fund for COVID relief was created, Mindi approached First Lutheran Church in Manchester,” Guetzko explained. “She had a heart and a vision for the ripple effect COVID-19 would have and that it was going to hit all communities. We got on a call with her with our FFDC and asked what we could do. That’s how our fund was born.”

Jackson said she saw from her work in health care how the virus could impact people. “I’ve seen multiple times where maybe patients don’t qualify for services. Perhaps their income is too high or they fall right on the borderline. Maybe they end up choosing between medication and feeding their families.”

Jackson reached out to the Rev. Tony Ede at First Lutheran Church. “I knew Tony through working with him at the hospital. He connected me with some amazing women who helped me grow the Pay it Forward program.

Among the initiatives the FFDC COVID Relief Fund and Pay if Forward have been involved with include:

• A Groceries to Go program with Fareway for those 65 years and older, as well as those with compromised immune systems that provide volunteers to pick up and if need be, deliver groceries for those not wishing to go into the store. An initiative from Fareway invited customers to purchase a food bag for $8. The week-long drive produced 234 bags, some of which went to Second Helpings while the remainder will be part of local school backpack programs.

• A pharmacy program covering over the counter costs, co-payments and medical supply costs.

• Helping to provide bags for school lunches at West Delaware as well as assisting in the delivery of meals to families unable to pick them up.

• Assisting with a First Lutheran Church quilting group sewing caps, gowns and masks for Regional Medical Center staff and the general public.

• Established the “Give if you can, take if you need” program in Delaware County communities. The program runs from 9-11 a.m. Saturdays. People can drop off donations of what they have and can share. People can also take what they need.

• Support for the Second Helpings Meal program on Monday evenings in Manchester. Besides providing food for the meals, a recent request for freezer meals resulted in 95 freezer meals and over 100 dozen cookies that were sent home with meal participants. In addition, community members donated gift cards from local restaurants to give out.

• The Edgewood-Colesburg School District received 200 art supply bags as an emotional resource for families in need while school is suspended.

• Maquoketa Valley received portable hotspots to provide internet connections to families who needed the connections for virtual learning.

• Operation: New View received cleaning and laundry supplies for families in need.

• During May, the Thank a Farmer program provided a lunch each day for a farmer.

The FFDC COVID-19 Relief Fund has donated $29,115 to organizations since March 26.

For those wishing to donate or to learn more about the programs, information may be found at the Facebook page Delaware County Pay it Forward 2020 COVID-19, or at the FFDC website, https://www.dbqfoundation.org/foundation-future-delaware-county

Nonprofit groups wishing to apply may email ffdccovid19@gmail.com or by phoning 319-343-7811.

Guetzko called the generous response to the programs “the best part of the story.”

“The generosity is beyond our imaginations,” she said.

Jackson echoed Guetzko’s sentiment. “The support we have received has been overwhelming and very humbling. Whenever we have put a need out there, we have received tremendous support.”

Support from stangers is something Jackson has received first hand. “I experienced some hardship and loss nine years ago. When I asked someone why they were helping me, they told me they were able to now and asked that I pay it forward when I could. Since then I’ve really honed in on that. That’s where Pay it Forward came from and it’s just kind of blossomed.”