Help in a crisis
Volunteers prepare donations to distribute to local residents with the help of the Coastside Crisis Fund. Photo courtesy Christina Conklin

Over the past two months, the “Coastside Crisis Fund” has raised more than $300,000 for families needing support from the economic fallout from COVID-19. Much of that money has already been distributed to families on the coast who would otherwise not qualify for government help.

The fund is managed by three nonprofits: Coastside Hope, Abundant Grace Coastside Worker, and Ayudando Latinos A Soñar. The organizations opened donations on March 20, and as of June 9 they had distributed more than $267,000 to 150 families who were not approved for traditional relief, such as rental assistance.

Three hundred donors have averaged $1,000 per donation. The fund has provided a much-needed lifeline for local families. But even as businesses and aspects of everyday life on the Coastside begin to open under new shelter-in-place orders, there is still a need to help those who can’t go back to work yet.

“A lot of families are just coming forward now because they had enough to get by and now they don’t,” said Christina Conklin, a volunteer who is on the fundraising team.

Families in need can contact Coastside Hope to see if they are eligible for any benefits. If not, they can go to ALAS for a needs assessment. Abundant Grace manages the fundraising and disbursement of funds. Those who qualify receive $575 for two consecutive months, as well as $600 worth of gift cards from local retailers, according to Abundant Grace Executive Director Eric DeBode. The nonprofits are planning a big fundraising push in the coming weeks to reach their goal of $500,000.

ALAS has also been running a free drive-through food pantry at the Half Moon Bay Library for several weeks using donated food, household products and gift cards. Every Saturday, more than a dozen volunteers check in with families still impacted by financial problems because of the coronavirus.

“The people that we’ve been working with have not had their rent canceled, just postponed,” DeBode said. “So they’re very much in need of financial support.”

These funds have a trickle-down effect, as local businesses are seeing a boost as well. The nonprofits are buying up to $15,000 worth of gift cards split between nearly a dozen stores and markets, including Mercado Mi Familia, Taqueria La Gallina, Ink Spell Books, Cunha Country Grocery, La Mexicana Placita, Fogtown Toys and Half Moon Bay Bakery.

“People are responding, which is just really gratifying that this community cares so much about people in need,” Conklin, said. “That’s been the best part, that people are reaching out and responding with such generosity.”

To donate, visit abundantgracecw.org or mail a check or gift card from the retailers mentioned on the website to Abundant Grace, 515 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019. Write “Coastside Crisis Fund” on the memo line.

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