Redlands volunteers distribute 28,000 lunches during pandemic, so far – Redlands Daily Facts

Life was about to get even tougher in March for homeless residents of Redlands as the world was shutting down because of a new infectious virus, including all the agencies that offer services and food.

The Redlands Charitable Resources Coalition scrambled this March to organize pop-up stations to hand out food and hygiene kits to the city’s neediest residents.

Volunteers make sandwiches, transport lunches and hand them out day after day, as the coronavirus pandemic continues. About 80 to 100 people receive assistance each day, and by mid-December about 28,000 lunches had been distributed.

Homeless advocate Craig Turley, who spearheaded the creation of this food program, said volunteer Lorrie Hinkleman has taken the program by the reins.

“She’s orchestrating, coordinating and putting her heart into the food stations that we started back in the dark days, back in March when COVID first hit,” Turley said, “when we discovered that the homeless people in the community had no food resourcing at all.”

As of the January 2020 Point In Time Count, Redlands had 186 unsheltered residents.

“People just started stepping up to the plate volunteering,” Hinkleman said. “Every day people would drive up and drop off lunches.”

In June, the food stations were consolidated at the Family Service Association of Redlands facility on Lawton Street where volunteers can use the dining room, walk-in refrigerator, ice machine and other amenities.

Kyra Stewart, the association’s executive director, said Hinkleman is often there seven days a week managing more than 30 volunteers because she has a passion for helping homeless residents.

Hinkleman started working with the homeless after retiring. She said she has always been a teacher, so she started in 2013 by tutoring at-risk kids at YouthHope. Since then she’s been involved with a number of homeless outreach groups in the city.

“She’s the person to do it because she’s in the trenches the most,” Stewart said. “She really talks to people, understands their journey, understands their challenges, and so I think that is the best advocate.”

Hinkleman said the real heroes are the residents of Redlands who have responded during the pandemic.

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