BURLEY — Amidst a statewide order for Idaho residents to stay home during the COVID-19 spread, Mini-Cassia residents are finding ways to help their neighbors and ease the fear and panic people feel when they go to the grocery store and find bare shelves instead of needed items.
Tayller Phillips, owner of Cozy Coffee in Heyburn, has turned her business into a clearinghouse where people can donate hard-to-get items, like diapers, baby wipes and toilet paper. She then gives those items away to anyone who needs them as they come through her drive-up window.
A couple of weeks ago, a customer came to her window in tears, Phillips said. Her coffee shop opened 10 months ago.
“She had three kids and couldn’t find any toilet paper,” she said. “I had a few rolls here that I just gave to her.”
An idea ignited and Phillips made some posts on Instagram and Facebook and donated toilet paper began rolling into her tiny shop.
As other customers told her they couldn’t find specific items, she made posts on those items too and found that people who had spares were eager to hand things off to those who had none.
Diapers and wipes seem to go the fastest, she said.
“The caring that this opened up has been totally amazing,” she said.
Destiny McKenzie of Paul felt spurred to action after she went to the grocery store for her great-grandmother and found the shelves picked clean.
“I started thinking about how other people must be worrying about the situation,” McKenzie said.
On March 14, she created a Facebook page — Help Your Neighbor! — and she sent invites to join the page to a few family members and friends. Overnight, the page grew by 1,000 members. It now has 2,461.
“It has just grown like crazy,” McKenzie said. “I think it really gives people a sense of community and they realize that we’re all in this together.”
People make posts about what they need and ask for recommendations on which stores may have it in stock. Sometimes people respond and say they have the item and will sell it or give it to the person.
Nile Bohon of Heyburn saw a woman’s post about needing distilled water for a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Bohon remembered her post as he was shopping at WinCo in Twin Falls and grabbed a couple of gallons for her.
“I didn’t need it,” he said, “but I knew she did.”
He contacted the woman and they met so he could give her the water. In return, Bohon said, she gave him a coupon for a free pizza.
“Man, that page is so helpful,” he said. “It’s nice because we don’t want people out running around if they don’t have to be and if someone can pick something up while they’re out and pass it along to someone else that needs it, that’s great.
“It’s really heartwarming.”
McKenzie said she sees a lot of people with “a little extra” giving it away.
“It absolutely makes me feel blessed to see a small community band together with 100% kindness coming from everyone,” she said.
Knowing there are people in the community willing to help others helps quell the fear that isolation can bring, she said.
One post came from a grandmother needing toilet paper and she’d been out searching for three days.
“Someone privately got her address and dropped some rolls off on her doorstep,” McKenzie said.
Some of the posts that touched her the most have come from moms and dads desperate because the stores were out of diapers and baby wipes.
Michele Snyder, a former Minidoka County teacher, also saw the pleas for baby supplies, and it prompted her to offer to teach any parent who wanted to learn how to select the correct fabric and make and fold cloth diapers.
Snyder used cloth diapers for three of her five children, and she plans to make a video to post online to teach others her skill.
“It’s neat to see people jumping on board and helping,” she said.
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