Child Advocacy Center giving back through food pick up

Published 7:20 am Saturday, April 25, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 public health pandemic, there have been many stories of school systems, organizations and individuals providing meals to those in need throughout the county.

Tri County Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Jacqueline Burgess said she felt an overwhelming urge to do something as well.

Burgess began reaching out to area wholesalers for donations of items such as snacks, drinks and bread and creating grocery boxes.

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“Chambers County Schools are great to continue to feed and even offer transportation but not every family is in a position to be able to get to the schools at the appointed times on a daily basis,” Burgess said. “Additionally, many of our parents were laid off or put on leave and were worried about providing for their kids during this time.”

As the need grew, so did the need for help. That is when her staff jumped in and along with East Alabama Food Bank and various local charities, they now offer a food box pick-up once a week for families in need (with or without children) who live in the Tallapoosa, Chambers and Randolph county areas.

In Chambers County, that pick-up day is every Tuesday from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. central time at either of the CAC locations in Valley or LaFayette.

To ensure there is enough each week, families in need can call CAC at (256) 307-1118 to request a box.

Retail is not the only business that has been affected by the current public health crisis. Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center has seen a reduction in child abuse reporting since Alabama’s shelter in place took effect. According to Burgess, this is to be expected as children and families are no longer having contact with individuals who are mandated reporters due to school being out, no extracurricular activities and church services moving online.

“This does not mean abuse is not happening. It just means we do not know about it which is all the more scarier for those of us in this line of work,” Burgess said. “This month is Child Abuse Awareness Month and unfortunately, we are all too aware of the dangers that some children are in,” Burgess added.

If anyone needs to make a report of suspected child abuse, contact a local law enforcement agency or Chambers County DHR at (334) 864-4000.

CAC has also had to make some adjustments to their operations in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. They have moved all of their counseling operations to tele-counseling using a web-based platform.

They are able to see majority of their clients this way and are also able to do urgent forensic interviews for law enforcement and DHR in their offices along with sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) exams that involve a rape kit where DNA is hoped to be collected.

CAC has a golf fundraiser planned for June 13 at Point Golf Course. However, with the current COVID-19 crisis, the future of this tournament is unclear.