These are challenging times for many that are just trying to maneuver through the unknown that the COVID-19 pandemic brings. As dates continue to get pushed back for the shelter in place order, businesses closed or modified, schools canceled, and shelves empty the struggle is real for many including those in the Central Valley. Locally, Dr. Ted Howze has stepped up to assist the community distributing food and goods to the public including deliveries to disabled veterans and seniors that he has dubbed “Operation Compassion.”
The idea was conceived as he encountered an emotional senior citizen recently at a local grocery store. This sparked the movement that began on March 19 which he added will continue as long as the pandemic keeps members of the community confined to their homes.
“She was very upset because all the panic buying left her unable to find vital supplies or afford the more expensive alternatives still left,” said Howze. “We began collecting supplies that day to offer care packages to homebound seniors and disabled veterans.”
Some of the items that have been delivered are toilet paper, canned goods, non-perishable boxed foods, and loaves of bread. Howze and his team have also picked up prescriptions and grocery orders.
“Homebound seniors and disabled veterans have been our primary focus but we’ve also taken care of others in need like a family in Manteca who was coronavirus positive and confined to home,” stated Howze. “While we’ve focused primarily on Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties, we’ve made deliveries as far away as Sacramento and Merced.”
In late March the Howze team collaborated with the Punjab Express Restaurant in Turlock and served up hundreds of traditional Indian cuisine take-out and delivery meals for seniors, veterans, and first responders including police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors, and EMS personnel as a thank you for their public service.
Operation Compassion and a few local mayors hosted a bread giveaway on March 30 through April 1 where they distributed 4000 loaves of bread to over a thousand families in the valley at the Howze congressional campaign headquarters and at the Manteca Senior Center along with some home deliveries.
The third day of the bread giveaway held in Manteca was co-sponsored with Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu and Tracy Mayor Robert Rickman.
“I can tell you it was absolutely humbling to hear the tearful “thank you’s” from people in the community who are so grateful for help,” added Howze. “We’ve shared laughter and tears with complete strangers who now feel like family for myself and my staff.”
Seniors have been able to pick up care packages of essential items at the Howze campaign headquarters at 5656 Pirrone Road in Salida and for those unable to pick up there have been front porch deliveries made.
Goods supplied have come from Howze, staff and the public without accepting financial contributions. Safety precautions for all involved have been adhered to with gloves, masks and social distancing along with doorstep deliveries.
A free BBQ dinner for veterans, first responders, EMS workers, and senior citizens is slated for Wednesday, April 8 at The House, a church in Modesto, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The dinner is being co-hosted by Howze, Protecting Soldiers Rights, Oakdale Mayor J.R. McCarty, Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold and The House Church.
Operation Compassion will continue to deliver care packages and assist the community as much as possible during the shelter in place.
For more information, follow Ted Howze for Congress on Facebook or visit tedhowze.com.
“I can’t help but think this whole national emergency speaks volumes about the character of America and how in times of disaster we get up, dust ourselves off and find a way to prevail over any adversity,” expressed Howze. “Just know that we will get through this together and remember to love thy neighbor.”