Casa Chirilagua gave out more than 1,000 meals to families in Chirilagua on Thursday, and needs food, cash and face mask donations for Alexandria’s vulnerable Hispanic population.
Casa Chirilagua works with more than 120 families living below the poverty line, and so far nonprofit has also paid more than $25,000 in rent and utilities for families impacted by COVID-19.
“These are scary times for a lot of people,” Casa Chirilagua Executive Director Adriana Schellhaas told ALXnow. “Many of our families have lost their jobs, and we don’t know if they will have those jobs back once these restrictions are lifted.”
She added, “We’re seeing more and more positive cases, and we need face mask and glove donations. There’s a lot of DIY [do it yourself] masks people that have made, and that would be awesome if people are interested in donating masks and gloves.”
The food distribution on Thursday was organized by World Central Kitchen, which has given out more than 5 million meals across the country during the pandemic. Alexandria Police officers maintained order, and Hunger Free Alexandria volunteers helped to make the distributions happen in about 40 minutes, Schellhaas said.
City Councilman Canek Aguirre said that the city’s Latino community is deeply concerned about the pandemic, and hopes landlords take it easy on their tenants. Last week, City Council passed a measure asking state and federal officials for a rent and mortgage freeze.
“There’s a lot of anxiety, and a lot of fear when it comes to having to pay rent that goes even beyond the fear of getting sick,” Aguirre said. “It’s difficult because the Latino community is facing multiple risks. We’re talking about a community that is likely working on the front lines, they’re having to take public transportation and they lack access to health care.”
On Friday, Tenants and Workers United also gave out gift cards to Alexandria families in Chirilagua.
“Everybody’s got to realize that we’re in the same boat, that we’re in this together and that there’s a domino effect,” Aguirre said. “The renters can’t pay the landlords, the landlords can’t pay their mortgages. It’s all interconnected.”
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