MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A team of Madison social workers and parents have been helping families in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to make sure every family feels supported.
When Madison schools shut down in March, Joyce Hall, a single mom, had to stop working to stay home with her six kids.
“It was a scary world, it still is right now,” Hall remembered. “I just was like, I don’t know, like, how are we going to eat? How much food do we need? All those questions. And then bills, like who’s gonna pay the bills? Do I have to make a decision on paying bills or feeding my family?”
That is where the Madison West High Area Collaborative stepped in.
“We just knew that there were a lot of families that were going to struggle,” said Alexa Wautier, Thoreau Elementary PTO president and volunteer.
The collaborative started as a partnership between parents and social workers at Thoreau Elementary and Cherokee Heights Middle School but quickly expanded to include all the schools that feed into West High School.
The group is working to make sure their families have basic needs met.
“We will try to continue it as long as there’s a need,” Wautier explained.
Every week, volunteers pack and deliver groceries to about 375 families. Wautier said at its peak, the group delivered to nearly 500 families.
Wautier said the group gets much of the food at little to no cost from Second Harvest. They also buy some of the produce from FoodChain, which helps connect with local farmers.
“We have broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers…We’re trying to provide healthy options for everybody,” Wautier said.
The collaborative also delivers baby supplies like diapers and other toiletries including toilet paper and shampoo.
For Hall, it is one more weight off her shoulders.
“It’s been the help that like, I’ve always wanted or needed, you know, to support my family,” she said.
As the pandemic stretches on, the collaborative has also helped over 100 families with rent.
“We knew that rent assistance and utility bills and all those things, were going to start mounting for families that lost jobs,” Wautier explained, adding, “It’s just super uplifting to be involved in something so positive, everybody is here to support our community.”
The collaborative plans to continue providing services into the fall, as MMSD schools will stay virtual only. Wautier said they are still trying to raise more funds, especially for housing assistance, as that money is quickly running out.
For more information on the collaborative, click here.
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