Chamber, agencies working to provide safety nets

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With so many people not being able to work or operate businesses as usual, the Camden County Chamber of Commerce and a handful of other organizations are working overtime to establish some safety nets for the local community. 

Food has been a primary focus, with school system employees and others working to give out meals for school children. They have set up drive-thrus at schools and distributions through established school bus stops. A listing of these can be found in an ad on page 6 of today’s newspaper.  

Some local businesses and volunteers are also enhancing the drive-thru stations. The owners of Cool Delights ice cream truck was on site Monday with thousands of dollars worth of ice cream treats to hand out.  

Chamber president Alison Shores said her office tapped into its network of local businesses and organization to set up some emergency relief in recent weeks. They are working with Camden Connection and Ravens of Elijah, a local food ministry, to gather and distribute food items to local senior citizens and the medically fragile. 

A drive-thru food pick-up is planned for Friday, March 27, from 2-4 p.m. at 531 N. Lee St. in Kingsland.  

Those who are not in an at-risk group for contracting the illness are also having some difficulty finding affordable ways to feed their families. Many have been laid off or furloughed from jobs and are suffering from a loss of income. They can file for unemployment through the Georgia Department of Labor, but even if approved, it takes time for those benefits to be available.  

Several churches are also giving out meals to local families who have struggled as store shelves have been depleted in many places of basic necessities. While the supply chain is still working, local grocers are still struggling to keep certain items in inventory. 

Backpacks for Kids, another local nonprofit, is stuffing bags with food and other supplies to distribute through the school drive-thrus and other channels. They are operating out of Southeast Community Church, which is providing space to store all of the supplies. 

Community fund

Camden Connection, a collaborative of local and state social service agencies, is working with the Camden County Chamber of Commerce and others to set up a Camden COVID-19 Community Fund. 

“We wanted to try to get ahead of any scam or questionable solicitation methods (that) started popping up as they have for many of the hurricane events,” said chief executive director Steven Sainz, who also represents the county in the Georgia House of Representatives. 

“All donations made to the fund will go directly to resources needed by partners to support local programs helping to mitigating current issues Camden citizens are facing. The fund will be under Camden Connection’s independent auditing standards and a regular update on donations and expenditures will be made to any interested party,” he said. “All administrative cost of managing the fund will be covered separately by the agency.”

For more information or to contribute, visit camdenconnection.org. Contributions can also be mailed by check to P.O. Box 5087, Kingsland, GA 31584. Donors should include their name and contact information and indicate the funds are to be directed to the Camden COVID-19 Community Fund.

Business loans

The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center is available to answer questions and help business owners address concerns they may have about their business including cash flow, payroll, marketing, the effect of the COVID-19 virus on your business and keep you up-to-date on the latest on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. 

The chamber is assisting local members with booking virtual appointments with the SBA. Businesses can contact the Brunswick office directly at Brunswick@georgiasbdc.org or call (912) 264-7343.