Cassopolis church, United Way partner to create donation drop off location

CASS COUNTY — United Way is offering a location where Cass County residents can give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Way is calling for donations in Cass County to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the need, United Way has partnered with United Presbyterian Church, Cass County Emergency Management and the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department to organize a donation drop-off site at United Presbyterian Church in Cassopolis. The donated items will then be distributed to organizations in need.

“This is a tough time for many of our community members and our organizations who are helping those community members,” said Amanda Drew, senior director of impact strategies at United Way of Southwest Michigan. “These organizations really need these supplies right now, so any help from anyone who can provide would be greatly appreciated. We are all in this together, and we all need to step up to ensure everyone is protected.”

Donations are needed from residents who can contribute supplies or materials to the organizations fighting the virus. The United Presbyterian Church, 209 E. State St., Cassopolis, will serve as a drop-off site for donated items from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Before coming with items, those looking to give should call the church at (269) 445-2664. When they arrive in the parking lot, they should call again, organizers said. Volunteers will open the storage shed and help as needed.

Wednesday marked the first day the donation drop off center was open, and Steve Kaszar, pastor at United Presbyterian, said the church received a donation on the first day. He is hoping that donations will increase as more people learn about the drop off site.

“The church is glad to be able to help out in this way, and we are happy to use our facility to help United Way at this time,” he said.

All necessary precautions and social distancing measures are being taken at the site to safety and minimize potential exposure to COVID-19, said Jennifer Tomshack, marketing and communication manager at United Way.

Since the pandemic hit, Tomshack said she had received an influx of inquiries about how residents can help those in need, which, in part, inspired the collaboration to create the new drop-off location in Cassopolis.

“This is part of a broader call, partnering with a lot of different agencies. We just want to make sure we are able to provide the kind of volunteer opportunities across our whole region that people can take advantage of,” she said. “We have been so encouraged by the way the communities of southwest Michigan have rallied together. We are all caring about their neighbors. It speaks so much about who we are as a community.”

Both Drew and Tomshack said they hope the community will take advantage of the drop-off location and give back to those in need.

“The need has never been greater than it is right now,” Tomshack said.

The following items are especially needed, according to United Way:

  • Clothing
  • New, clean socks and underwear
  • Scrubs, new or gently used
  • New PPE/Medical Supplies
  • N95/Surgical Masks
  • Isolation masks
  • Handmade masks
  • Masks with face shield/visor
  • Face shields
  • Goggles/safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Thermometers
  • Disposable medical gowns
  • Ponchos
  • New Cleaning Supplies
  • Bleach wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Food Items
  • Shelf-stable snacks
  • Shelf-stable microwaveable meals
  • New Hygiene Items (Travel Size/Disposable)
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine care products
  • Shaving cream
  • Razors

Nonprofit organizations seeking to benefit from the supplies, materials and funds donated can request what they need through the United Way of Southwest Michigan by emailing Amanda Drew at amanda.drew@uwsm.org. Requests are not a guarantee but will be based on what is donated, Drew said.

Those looking to give items in Berrien County can do so from 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to noon Fridays at United Way of Southwest Michigan, 2015 Lakeview Ave., St Joseph.

For other ways to give back, visit uwsm.org/volunteer.