HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Monday, July 20, begins the state-wide mandate for masks in Arkansas and some people are already worried about the lack of PPE for their area.
The Jackson House is currently serving about 30,000 people in Garland County.
Since the pandemic, that demand has continued to grow.
Now, with the mask mandate in place, Jackson House Executive Director Janie Smith said they need the community's help to keep everyone safe.
"We realized that if we tried to cut back at all, that it would have too great of an impact," she said.
Smith described the last four months as challenging for the crisis center.
"Especially because right now we are continuing to provide full services for the entire community, and pretty much doing that alone," she said.
When the pandemic kicked in, so did the fear— causing other local food pantries and shelters to shut their doors or cut down their hours.
According to Smith, this meant the Jackson House began to take on a heavier load.
"The first couple of months of the pandemic have been quite stressful. We've been providing noon lunches every day and we've had that increase about 35% over the normal," she said.
The Jackson House went from providing 150 lunches every day to 300. Before the virus, they were giving out 15,000 pounds of groceries a month and now they are up to 50,000.
Even though the center was keeping up, Smith said a new challenge has come their way.
"Since the pandemic started we've given out roughly 1,000 or so masks. We were completely, pretty much depleted as of last week," she said.
With no more masks to give and a state-wide mandate around the corner, Smith is calling on the community to help those who can't help themselves.
"Remember we're not just doing homeless folks. We're doing senior citizens, the disabled, we're taking care of veterans and a large working class in our community," she said.
Smith said depending on the situation, the people they serve may not be able to keep track of their masks or they are taking care of family members who may be more vulnerable to the virus.
This is why, no matter the material, any protection will help.
"All of them depend on us, so we need to provide for all of their needs," Smith said.
To donate, you can drop off your masks at the Jackson House on 705 Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs or call the center at 501-623-4048 and a volunteer will come to pick up your donation.
If you'd rather give money for the staff to purchase masks, you can do that here.