Community Answers Emmaus Homes’ Call to ‘Fill the Van’ During Give STL Day

Neighbors stopped by all day to “fill the van” for Emmaus Homes.

From dawn till midnight on May 7, community members from across St. Louis turned out in force bearing toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other essential items to help UCC-related Emmaus Homes “Fill the Van.”

The goal was to fill Emmaus Homes’ 15-seat van with much-needed supplies for its clients. Monetary donations also came in online, which will be used to purchase additional supplies.

“It was awesome!” says Steven Amrhein, Emmaus Homes’ brand manager. Donations were dropped off throughout the day in the parking lot of Emmaus Homes’ offices in St. Louis. The items will be distributed to the more than 275 men and women with developmental disabilities that Emmaus serves.

Though part of Give STL Day — an annual event run by the St. Louis Community Foundation — Fill the Van was crucial in helping Emmaus Homes during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has caused problems for many Emmaus clients and their families, many of whom are either at high risk for the virus or are having difficulty affording such common items disinfectants and paper goods.

Another donation arrives.

Amrhein says the constant surprises and generosity from people stopping by the van were the best part. For example, he says, “a Pizza Hut delivery driver stopped by [to see what we were doing], and then went to Walgreens to buy stuff to donate to us.”

Such heartwarming stories filled the day, which included a three-hour, live remote broadcast from a local radio station. The station gave away t-shirts and stickers to everyone who stopped  by with donations. The local Fox news station also stopped by to do a live segment.

One couple drove up on a motorcycle, armed with toilet paper. “They said they got a lot of looks on the highway as they drove with toilet paper,” Amrhein says.

Throughout the day, Emmaus posted a steady stream of short, online video and photo updates via its Facebook page. All of the coverage helped Emmaus meet is goals, says Amrhein.

The items will be distributed to Emmaus clients.

By day’s end, the van was full. In addition to more than 75 packages of cleaning supplies, the final tally included more than:

  • 640 rolls of toilet paper
  • 350 pairs of gloves
  • 300 rolls of paper towels
  • 600 masks
  • 50 gowns
  • 45 boxes of tissues
  • 45 jugs of bleach
  • 45 containers of disinfectant wipes

Additionally, Emmaus exceeded its $10,000 fundraising goal, which included a matching gift of up to $3,000 from a generous donor.

“We had 76 total online donors, and 25 were brand new to Emmaus,” says Amrhein. “We also had over 45 people drop off supplies. Thanks to everyone who participated, we will be able to help a LOT of people.”

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