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Grateful Bread drive helps 20 families

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Helping hands: Juliana Snelling, of Grateful Bread, left, Christyn Simons of the Coalition for the Protection of Children and her son, Cruz, Rachel Dill of the Coalition, donor Kristine Cornish and daughter Myla and Suzi Outerbridge of Grateful Bread (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

A community group has raised more than $80,000 for families left in dire straits by the Covid-19 pandemic.Grateful Bread started the Families Supporting Families drive in May after their usual monthly dinners for the needy were halted because of pandemic restrictions. Juliana Snelling, a lawyer and founder of Grateful Bread, said: “We started out wanting to help five families, but have helped 20 so far.The Coalition for the Protection of Children picked the families to help.Many of them had contacted the Coalition because they were struggling after job losses, due to the Covid-19 crisis.Ms Snelling said a lot of families the group helped had struggled before the pandemic. She added: “It really swept the rug out from under so many families who didn’t have a reserve, who were living paycheque to paycheque.”Rachel Dill, the lead social worker at the Coalition, said they were grateful for the help. She added: “This is more than we anticipated. It is very overwhelming to see the support from the community.”She said when Bermuda introduced shelter-in-place regulations in March, the Coalition saw hardship calls quadruple, but the situation had improved as restrictions were eased.Ms Dill added: “Now the need is about double what it was before the pandemic.”The money was raised through a SignupGenius webpage. Families were listed anonymously on the page under names like “Love” or “Bluebirds” with details of their problems and requirements. Donors selected the family they wanted to help, and how they could assist. Kristine Cornish, an account manager at reinsurance firm Argo Re, donated to Families Supporting Families several times. She said she was a single mother and it was tough enough to have to work from home and help her daughter, Myla, 6, with remote learning.But she added she could not imagine what it would be facing financial hardship as well. Ms Cornish said: “I thought, this is a great opportunity for me to help. I thought there are five families on the list initially and I don’t know how to choose.“My goal was to support each of those five families for groceries through the month of July.”She told Myla what she was going to do, and why, and they made a donation together. Ms Cornish’s employer matched the donation she made.Several other international businesses, such as Deloitte and the Markel Group, have also made donations. The Coalition has received several cards of thanks created by children in the families helped by the project. Suzi Outerbridge, of Grateful Bread, said: “Some children drew pictures of bluebirds and longtails, expressing gratitude for strangers helping strangers.”Ms Snelling said that the group’s dinners would not restart until they were given the all clear. But she said, when the dinners did resume, the group may continue a version of Families Supporting Families. She added: “So far, 153 people have given to the first 20 families. We are now on our next five families.“With only $13,000 left to raise, I am thinking we will say can we look at helping about five more families.”She emphasised that Grateful Bread was not a charity, but a group of like-minded people who wanted to help the public.Ms Snelling added that all the cash raised from Families Supporting Families went to the Coalition.Rebecca Little, a jeweller, also contributed by making 20 sterling silver “love knot” necklaces which she sold at $80 a piece to raise money for Families Supporting Families. • To make a donation to Families Supporting Families visit www.signupgenius.com/go/5080d4caeaa2aa0fd0-cpcfsf or www.coalition.bm

Cruz Simons and Myla Cornish with cards made by children helped by Families Supporting Families (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)