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COVID-19 WATCH

Feed thy neighbor

Komfie Manalo

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Community volunteers are taking the initiative to solicit donations for distribution to underserved neighbors as Filipinos embrace that in the battle against hunger, the whole nation is on the frontline.

For the second night in a row, a small group of volunteers in Morning Breeze Subdivision, Caloocan City has been repacking food supplies for distribution to their more needy neighbors. The chosen beneficiaries are those underprivileged that even the assistance from the local government unit is insufficient to get them by.

Ironically, the volunteers are not your typical “rich kids” but ordinary employees who are fortunate not to have their jobs disrupted and continue receiving their monthly paychecks who have genuine concern to the plight of their neighbors who are not as lucky.

“We have a limited budget but we try to maximize what we have. To be honest, we wanted to give more as there are very desperate for food,” Louie, one of the volunteers stated.

To finance their food relief distribution, Louie and friends have been calling family, acquaintance and network, for donations. One of the volunteers, Alfie, even called his colleagues in Genesys for cash donations.

“The amount is not really that important. Yesterday we raised only P6,000 so we bought two sacks of rice, and three boxes of sardines and instant noodles that we repacked for 50 families. The other day, we were able to distribute more. Hopefully, we can sustain this if we can raise more funds,” he said.

Growing contagion

The selfless acts of these volunteers are not limited in Caloocan.

On Friday, a Facebook post offering food assistance to those in need, went viral.

One of the early posters of the message was Krisca Tadena of Globe Telecoms. She is encouraging anybody who reads her post not to be embarrassed to message her if he or she runs out of food and Tadena will quickly send some. “Please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,” she pleaded

Tadena added the gesture is “to show kindness during these difficult times.”

The message reads:

“If anyone is not working and runs out of food, please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever food I have. I will GrabExpress or LalaMove. There will be absolutely no judgement. It’s now our turn to show kindness during these difficult times.

 “I was taught growing up that where one person eats; two can eat, too. We have to be more grateful and less selfish.”

The post was ended with a prayer and hashtags #JoinTheCause and #CopyAndPasteIfYouCanAndAreWilling.

Not surprisingly, I immediately received a positive response from a friend when I tried this viral message and check if the offer is indeed true.

Elsewhere, residents in several middle-class subdivisions in Quezon City and Cavite have posted signs on their gates telling their LGUs they are not in need of relief goods and give them to those who need them more.

While some accept the food packs given by their mayors and barangay leaders only to redistribute them to their less fortunate friends or families.

“We are all in this together and we should do our share to uplift the spirit of our citizens by sharing what little we have with them. This is not the time to bicker and point fingers. This is a fight for every Filipino,” another volunteer who asked not be named added.

All frontliners

After seeing the post of the Morning Breeze volunteers, one of the neighbors who operate a transportation network vehicle service and one of the industries heavily disrupted by the enhanced community quarantine brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, sent one sack of rice as his contribution to the neighborhood relief efforts.

“Things like this encourages us to continue doing what we do,” Alfie added.

As the bayaniyan spirit becomes contagious across the country, Filipinos are embracing that in the fight against poverty and hunger, the battle has shifted to the community and we are now all frontliners.
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