With COVID-19 spiking, SJ SHIP Kits’ mission more important than ever

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Santa Clara County to mandate everyone stay at home in March, SJ SHIP Kits provided a box of items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, nonperishable food, and even jump ropes and puzzles for working families that found themselves suddenly unemployed.

The nonprofit was the brainchild of Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga, whose development company Urban Community seeded the nonprofit startup with $100,000 and provide the use of the old San Jose Armory — an event space that wouldn’t be hosting events for a while — for volunteers to assemble the boxes. Word got around and business partners sprouted with a desire to help out.

SAN JOSE, CA – NOVEMBER 19: Eric Glader of SJ Ship Kits is photographed inside the San Jose Armory on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. The nonprofit partnership headed up by Glader has been distributing packages of donated goods, everything from hand sanitizer to boxed pasta, during the pandemic. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Sports teams like the San Jose Giants and San Jose Sharks contributed fun stuff for the boxes, Voyager Coffee and Academic Coffee also contributed, and Gordon Biersch Brewery and Frank-Lin Distillers signed on to produce the hand sanitizer (an idea that actually started with San Jose State University Vice President Charlie Faas).

“We did a stellar job of raising money at a time when the landscape was tight,” says Eric Glader, who has led the project for Dillabough, a longtime friend. “In the early days of shelter in place, it was a saving grace to have something to devote our energies to.”

Eight months later, though, COVID-19 is spiking again, businesses are again having to close and most of the state is under a nighttime curfew. And while SJ SHIP Kits (SHIP stands for SHelter In Place) is no longer a shiny, new venture, it’s mission is more important than ever and it’s expanded its capabilities in a whole new direction: fresh produce. The nonprofit has secured more than 950,000 lbs. of produce — that’s about 800,000 meals — for food banks in the Bay Area.

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Glader suspects the need for SJ SHIP Kits’ work will continue — if not increase — in the coming months, but he doesn’t know how sustainable the future is. “We’re hopeful that we can be an ongoing entity for the year. The enthusiasm is definitely there,” he said. When South Bay businesses were largely shut down early in the pandemic, there were a lot of volunteers available and donations were strong. But as things began to open up in the early fall, neither situation remained as true. “Money is the biggest constraint,” Glader says.

But, Glader hopes, there’ll be enough corporate, foundation and individual support to keep SJ SHIP Kits going as long as the pandemic lasts. (You can get more information or donate at sjshipkits.com.)

“When I see people who can and do help, it gives me a lot of respect for the individual,” Glader said. “This work has provided me …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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