Volunteers, local businesses pour their generosity into Wheeler Mission amid pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Volunteers and local businesses are pouring their generosity into Wheeler Mission right now, making sure hundreds of people do not go hungry. Their help is desperately needed as the mission’s kitchen closed, and more than two dozen staff and guests combined tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are packing 150 lunches up for the Wheeler Mission,” David Lowry explained while finishing up the day’s food offerings for the mission in his kitchen.

Lowry’s popular Indy salon is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but his is one of many homes where Wheeler’s meals are being made right now.

“They get a little fruit cup, they get a turkey or a ham sandwich, chips, waters,” Lowry explained while holding a plastic bag filled with food.

When Wheeler’s in need, the community comes through. Local restaurants and businesses have provided more than 3,500 meals so far, but the need has doubled.

At least 70 people are stepping up to make sack meals daily, and bonding over serving others too.

“As much as it does stink that we’re all going to get through this together, and it’s really a community process,” Ava Lowry said.

From the comforts of home to the side door of the mission, the meals are coming from all over the area to the heart of downtown, and into the hands of those who need them.

“We have enough contacts, we have groups, we have friends, we have family,” Kathy Fountain, meal organizer, said. “They all just stepped up and said, “Yeah, we’ll help. We’ll take a day; we’ll take a day.” It’s been so amazing.”

Wheeler’s shelter for men is under quarantine right now. So, guests in the building this week cannot leave, except for work then returning afterward.

This means volunteers cannot come inside either. Still, Wheeler keeps serving. The staff still working is clocking 12 hour or longer days.

“You want to talk about front line,” Jim Fountain, board chairman, commented.

The Fountains explained how meal donations led to more support.

“What’s cool is that we’ve done this, that has led women talking, ‘okay, let’s do meals for the staff,'” Kathy said. “Let’s bring these masks down.”

COVID-19 does not care who it harms, and Wheeler Mission cares too much to surrender to its spread.

“It’s a blessing,” David said. “It’s a really cool thing to do for people and to help out.”

On another positive note, Wheeler counted 111 guests and 32 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. If you would like to help Wheeler serve our community, visit wheelermission.org.

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