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Tampa nonprofits lose volunteers amid coronavirus concerns

Posted at 6:58 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 18:58:12-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Nonprofit organizations across Tampa are in need of help amid coronavirus concerns as volunteers cancel shifts.

"It's one of the most important things in my life actually," said Angela Mcbride.

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She volunteers each Friday for Meals on Wheels of Tampa, in the office and on the routes. The organization serves about 800 meals a day utilizing more than 80 volunteers.

"Just bringing that meal to them seeing the look on their face knowing in many cases it's the only contact they have," said Mcbride.

But the nonprofit said it is feeling a significant impact.

"We're seeing a huge decrease in our corporate volunteer groups, school groups and just individuals in general," said Shana Taylor-Page, the director of programs and partners.

Taylor-Page said they need help.

"Everybody of course is scared of the unknown but we’re taking every necessary precaution we can to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible. But we need their help to go out and feed our home bound neighbors," she said. "We could also use supplies as everyone knows it’s hard to come across gloves and hand sanitizers and wipes. We’re delivering over 800 meals every day so any of those supplies people could donate as well would be really helpful."

They're not the only ones.

Metropolitan Ministries said in less than two weeks, 27 volunteer groups have canceled their shifts.

"That represents almost 500 people, so if you know the volunteers we really rely on them to get things done around campus so it's definitely impacting us," said Justine Burke, the vice president of marketing for Metropolitan Ministries.

Burke said they're also looking for supplies.

"What happens in a situation like this with the coronavirus, and even some other situations like with emergencies in general, people in need cannot just run to the store and load up on supplies and stock up. They don’t have the funds to do that," Burke said. "Their lives are already a little frightening and scary at risk and this just adds on another whole level of fear."

Feeding Tampa Bay said they always need volunteers.

“It’s imperative that we have volunteers help us out with that. We do understand that there are concerns around it. We want any volunteer to know that we practice good hygiene, we practice good safety measures, so folks can volunteer with us comfortably and safely," said Thomas Mantz, the president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.

Blood donors are also needed.

"People are starting to cancel blood drives and cancel their donation appointments and we need to urge people not to do that. We need you to come in and donate, patients are depending on blood donations on a daily basis," said Susan Forbes, the vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood.

OneBlood called it an urgent situation.

"The concern is if we see the coronavirus start to spread further, this could further reduce the number of eligible blood donors that are available. So for every person that doesn’t come in to donate, that further puts the blood supply at risk," said Forbes.

You can find information on each organization here: