It didn't take long for Kasey Satchell to jump into action to help her Columbia County community as the realities of life under the threat of COVID-19 started to take shape.
Satchell, who runs Little Friends Childcare in Scappoose, had recently purchased a short school bus to transport children enrolled in her daycare business. When schools and day cares across the region were forced to close due to concerns about the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, Satchell volunteered to start delivering meals provided by schools to families suddenly home-bound.
"We both have kids who go to the same schools, so when she found out they needed help, she was willing to step up and help," said Aubray Hill, Satchell's neighbor, who is helping raise awareness about the volunteer delivieries. "I definitely think there's a need in our community."
Satchell started out posting on Facebook about her willingness to pick up lunches provided by Scappoose and St. Helens schools and either drop them off at the doorstep or hand-deliver to recipients.
"Basically, I've just been posting on Facebook and people have been messaging me," Satchell said of the lunch deliveries, adding she has a big jar of Purell hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in the bus she uses before and after deliveries. She said she dropped off business cards with new deliveries and, soon enough, neighbors started calling. "We're slow at work right now. I have plenty of staff and don't want to lay them off, so we're just out and about and doing whatever we can."
Satchell said the people she delivers to run the gamut from families with elderly relatives who are concerned about venturing into public to parents who don't have time to make a daily run because they're working from home. And more, with each recipient figuring out how to live and rapidly adjust to unique circumstances.
She's up for delivering just about anything.
"Even if it's not school lunches and there are people who can't get out and pick up stuff, I'm totally willing to do it," she said. "Honestly, I would do it for as many as I could."A few days after launching her volunteer service, Satchell said she delivered lunches to 15 locations in one day. On Monday, she was up to 57. The schools provided her with a delivery list over the weekend and she has also, after completing a background check, started delivering for Community Action Team's Head Start program and meals for the Scappoose and St. Helens seniors, the latter being among society's most susceptible to severe or even fatal complications from COVID-19.
"We don't want them going out," she said.
A bright spot in her day, she said, has been the welcoming smiles on the faces of children when she turns down a road or onto a driveway in her yellow bus.
"The kids love it because I'm driving around in a school bus," she said.
After some criticism directed at her on social media from people who mistakenly believed public dollars supported the program after seeing the bus in the community, she has since enlisted Digital Graphiti Printing in St. Helens to add signage to it.
Day care operations have also started to resume, but under more stringent state rules that limit the number of children at each location and place priorities on children of people whose occupations have been deemed essential, Satchell pointed out. Her business has been partially restored, though the risks — both financial and for working with fewer children and often those with a higher likelihood of being exposed to the new coronavirus — have increased, as have the regulations.
Still, despite the smattering of negativity and her altered business landscape, the deliveries have been fun and are continuing.
"It's actuallly been a lot of fun," Satchell said. "The kids get so happy when there's a school bus coming down their street.
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Who: Kasey Satchell of Little Friends Childcare
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