CUMBERLAND — When Lisa Wolford asked for help to supply grocery items and other necessities to local folks impacted by COVID-19, she had no idea the gesture would turn into a large community project.
Initially, Wolford posted a brief request for assistance on her personal Facebook page.
After she got a lot of feedback, Wolford developed a group page for the effort and named it the Western MD Meal Response Team.
"It kind of exploded," said Wolford, a Cumberland resident.
Within a short time, the group collected several thousand dollars in donations of cash and food, and was able to match the items with scores of people.
The site also includes instructions for folks to request food and other necessities.
"I'm very overwhelmed by the response, in a good way," Wolford said.
Members of the group shop at several area stores to get what they need, which is primarily nonperishable foods, while leaving items available for other customers.
"We're trying to focus on the absolute necessities," Wolford said.
The group has been using the Cumberland Theatre to sort and organize the groceries in preparation for delivery.
Over the weekend, Wolford posted an update on the Response Team's Facebook page, saying more than 100 families have been fed.
LaVale resident Ellen McDaniel-Weissler volunteered to help Wolford with the project.
"I am in contact with Allegany County government about getting local restaurants on board with this effort," she said via email.
She's also working with the county's Human Resources Development Commission to pinpoint seniors who need assistance, and the local Chamber of Commerce has been involved in the restaurant angle, too.
"We have a team of about 20 volunteers who will be making deliveries, and we are soliciting donations of money and food for the effort, as well as information about people who may be in need (including) neighbors, friends, colleagues, fellow parishioners, etc.," McDaniel-Weissler said and added that local clergy are also involved, as well as the New Neighbors Committee and the Community Gathering Committee.
Former Cumberland mayor, Brian Grim, is also a volunteer for the project.
"I was asked to be involved," he said and added that in a time of crisis, it's important to help others. "It's truly a community effort.
Grim also said he finds the project, and its supporters, inspiring.
"It's been overwhelming to see the generosity," he said. "It makes this ... a gem of a community to live in."