Nearly 4,000 local residents recently received more than $160,000 in gift cards to help with COVID-19 fallout through a partnership between United Way of Greater Cincinnati, its partner agencies and Hamilton County Job and Family Services.
Nearly three quarters of the recipients reported loss of wages and increases in expenses because of COVID-19. More than 90 percent of the cards went to female-headed households. The average family size was four.
The relief included more than $94,000 in grocery gift cards to help families with food and other basic needs. UWGC also distributed 951 Visa cards totaling more than $66,000 through the organization’s partner agencies and United Way 211, a resource and referral line.
The families expressed gratitude for the assistance:
- “It helped… I am a single mom of 4, so losing my job has been really hard. This money helps a lot with household things I'm struggling to afford. Thank you.”
- “I can buy diapers for my baby. I can buy detergent for my family to use.”
- “Allowing me to buy food, toilet paper, and educational toys for my son.”
- “This is helping us by me being able to use the money to pay our Duke bill and get food.”
The relief effort included a public-private partnership with Hamilton County Job and Family Services to help families waiting for food assistance due to COVID-19’s effect on the local economy. The gift cards provided immediate assistance as JFS – inundated with applications – worked to process the requests in a timely manner.
“United Way usually works through its partner agencies and other community organizations to impact Greater Cincinnati in a positive way; in this case, it was important to get money directly into the hands of families and children as quickly as possible,” said Moira Weir, United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s president and CEO. “The partnership with Hamilton County Job and Family Services shows how public-private partnerships provide meaningful results to families.”
Tim McCartney, interim director of JFS, said the great number of families in need stressed the entire JFS network.
“COVID-19 was a game changer for our community; the spike in need was unlike anything I have seen in my 30 years at JFS,” he said. “Partnering with the United Way helped us ensure families had food and other necessities in their greatest time of need.”
United Way of Greater Cincinnati worked with Brighton Center, Hyde Park Center for Older Adults, Meals on Wheels and Mercy Neighborhood Ministries to distribute the cards to families hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. That donation was made possible by Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand.
United Way ensured no families received more than one gift card and connected all with other United Way resources. Weir said United Way would develop more public-private partnerships as it expands its community presence with goals of convening resources to tackle deep-rooted systems of inequity.