With the help of donors, Family Service of RI plans to increase its aid to the needy

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PROVIDENCE – Family Service of Rhode Island, a non-profit organization that serves some of the state’s most needy communities, is stepping up work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Providence-based organization collects antibacterial wipes, soap, detergent, hand sanitizer and toilet paper for distribution to some of the 9,000 people it serves across Rhode Island. These are all things families have asked for as they try to stop the spread of a virus that has so far infected 44 people in the state.

“Our services will intensify,” said Joyce Leven, AmeriCorps project manager for Family Service. “I foresee an increase in the next two weeks. “

On Thursday, she and others in the organization helped unload shipments of 5,000 bars of soap donated by Bradford Soap Works, of West Warwick, and containers of wipes from Rhode Island’s Blue Cross & Blue Shield. They will be packed with other goods collected in the coming days and delivered as “Be Safe kits” to those who need them.

Family Service will also prepare up to 1,000 meals to help families get through the crisis.

The agency is working in other ways to lend a hand. The “Walking School Bus” program, in which AmeriCorps members working in the Family Service accompany children to and from their primary schools, is on hiatus and classes are suspended. But every morning AmeriCorps members take the kids to Juanita Sanchez High School instead, where free meals are offered.

Leven said they were very careful on walks, limiting groups to no more than four students, checking with families beforehand to make sure no one has been exposed to the virus and keeping everyone a safe distance away one another.

“It’s going to be a big learning curve for people,” she said. “We will be there to answer their questions.

Family Service is looking for soaps, hand sanitizers, wipes and other sanitary products. Donations can be dropped off at the agency’s office at 9 Pleasant Street, Providence.

Financial donations for Be Safe kits are accepted by texting BESAFE at 44321 or by visiting www.familyserviceri.org/post/be-safe.

Checks made payable to Family Service of Rhode Island should be sent to Family Service of RI, PO Box 6688, Providence 02940-6688 Attn: Be Safe.

Anyone with questions about donating funds and supplies for the kits can email Maggie Slane, Family Service Promotion Office Manager, at [email protected] Anyone in need of a Be Safe kit should call (401) 331-1350 ext. 3840.

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