The San Jose Earthquakes and Wells Fargo are humbled and inspired by the amazing work of our frontline communities and neighbors in this time of crisis. Each week, we’ll be featuring and highlighting the work of one fantastic neighborhood hero, showcasing the great work they are doing and the organizations our community can rally around.
Additionally, a donation will be made to an organization or community project on behalf of each week’s hero. This week we will be donating to the San Jose SHIP Kit organization.
Local grassroots effort changes thousands of lives in a matter of weeks
“A little over a month ago, we came up with an idea,” says Eric Glader.
Eric is a part of a team that turned an idea into a company called San Jose Shelter In Place (SHIP) Kits. The SHIP Kits team, led by Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga of Urban Community, has gathered resources from local businesses to make boxes of goods targeted for hourly-wage earners who may have lost their jobs, and families with children ages 6-12.
The kits include a variety of nutritional support (canned goods, nutrient-dense food, non-perishable food), health supplies (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap), as well as wellness items (puzzles, cards, coloring books).
“We put together a team of local business leaders, so everyone could figure out how to give resources and talent to help others,” says Eric.
Over 3,000 kits have been donated to families in San Jose so far.
They have received support from many local businesses big and small. Donors include large food companies like Sysco, and small local businesses like restaurants. The Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose has made their own hand sanitizers in response to COVID-19, and now their hand sanitizers are included in these kits.
“For us, it's our therapy… It helps us stay focused and stay sane,” says Eric.
The grassroots effort operating out of the San Jose Armory is on the way to receiving 501(c)3 non-profit status. All people involved are helping on a volunteer basis.
The cost of each kit averages around $50, so there is a growing need for financial support. So far the SHIP Kit team has done personal fundraising as well as networking within companies to gain backing.
Eric and his team are humbled by the ability to provide dignity and hope to community members in need. “It gives people a reason to smile when there's not much to smile about,” he says.
The team takes pride in the fact that this effort has taken off so quickly due to the generosity of the business communities.
The company’s goal by the end of shelter-in-place orders is to distribute around 20-30 thousand boxes. However, the need for these resources continues long after shelter-in-place orders are lifted. “We need people to know we’re here for them,” says Eric.