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Community coming together to combat the coronavirus

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- As the coronavirus grips the nation, and people isolate themselves to keep them and their family safe, it's easy to forget that many people are in need of a helping hand.

"I currently work for a small daycare here in town which follows the school district. So we got shut down too with no pay right now," Nattie Ruppel said.

She's one of many people across the area whose life has been thrown off by the virus.

"I reached out for some help to get some rent assistance and some medical insurance assistance and multiple people have helped," Ruppel said.

She used Facebook to connect with an online community of people looking for help and helping each other where they can.

"People are volunteering their time, I would say there are a lot more people doing that than those who need help," Paulo Delgado, creator of an assistance Facebook group, said.

He put together the Dane County Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook group just a few days ago and as of Monday 2,500 have joined.

Pre-existing organizations have used the group to let people know the help they can provide.

"You don't really know what your community is capable of until you need to find out," CV Vitolo-Haddad, with the Madison General Defense Committee, said. "Sometimes I think we don't want to find out but it's actually been really reassuring."

The MGDC has been in place for a few years and typically has 15 volunteers helping people.

But with this new emergency, they have more than a hundred volunteers with hundreds of requests for assistance.

For example Vitolo-Haddad spent the weekend making soup, as their apartment has been a sort of repository for the MGDC.

But they're not the only ones.

The Greater Madison Resource Center has also stepped it's work into high gear.

"Hand sanitizers, Lysol, I mean you name it so we put together laundry baskets to give out into the community," Kelly Le Grand, founder of the GMRC, said.

Le Grand says this is work that they've been doing for years but this emergency has helped people know where to look when they need a helping hand.

She says she had the foresight to stock up before store shelves laid barren over the past week and is now ready to distribute that to people.

For more information, to seek assistance or to volunteer for GMRC, you can find their website here.

The MGDC has a Facebook page for all of their information.

Both groups have access to forms to fill out for assistance or volunteer opportunities.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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