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Local woman asking you to help those in need as coronavirus concerns increase


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Customers are seeing empty shelves at some retailers in eastern Idaho as shoppers stock up on supplies. | Courtesy photo

IDAHO FALLS — The influx of people who are standing in line at the grocery store and stockpiling items due to concerns about the coronavirus is leaving many store shelves empty.

Many retailers are reporting shortages of items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes, diapers, formula and other basic necessities.

This trend is forcing those who are in need of certain items — those who are sick, the elderly, and others who can’t afford to stock up — to go without. And Katie Francis, the principal at Hawthorne Elementary in Idaho Falls, tells there are more people in this situation than you think.

“People cannot function as a human being without these things, and I think some people have been a little selfish,” Francis says. “I was standing in a store the other day and watched a poor woman cry because she couldn’t buy diapers or baby food for her child.”

This trend is just beginning, Francis says, and that’s not okay. She’s asking you to help those who are struggling.

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Beginning Monday at 8 a.m., Hawthorne Elementary will be collecting toilet paper, hand soap, baby formula, diapers, wipes, kleenex, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, food and any other items you want to donate.

Drop off your items at the school between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. throughout the week. You can also volunteer your time. The school will evaluate which families to distribute the items and will be partnering with other organizations to make those deliveries.

“If you bought a huge case at Sam’s Club, just take one of those small cases out and donate that and you still have enough for your family,” Francis says. “If everybody is able to pitch in just a little bit, we’re gonna be able to get these people the things that they need and not put them in a position where they’re risking their life to stand in a line for four hours when that’s not what’s best for them.”

Hawthorne Elementary hosts a backpack drive every year, which Francis says is always well-supported. She says she has faith that people in eastern Idaho will “step up and do the right thing.”

“Right now is a time where everyone needs to think of the greater good — our neighbors and people in the community around us — and do what is best for them. We have to see outside of ourselves and outside of our family and realize that there’s a lot of other people that need to be taken care of,” she says.

Hawthorne Elementary is at 1520 S. Boulevard in Idaho Falls. If you have questions or are in need of assistance, text Francis at (503) 975-5337.