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Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Covenant House, Other Charities Keep Serving Some Of The Most Vulnerable

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the Covenant House serves some of New York City's most vulnerable population.

That mission does not stop for anything, not even the coronavirus.

CBS2's Cory James took a look at how the nonprofit is adapting.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text 692692 | Westchester Testing Call 1(888)-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Case Tracker | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

Not everyone in the city has the luxury of working from home. Though Covenant House has had to cut back on staff, its mission of serving thousands of young people remains huge.

LINK: Covenant House

"We don't want kids languishing on the streets, not getting the services that they need, feeling hopeless, feeling alone. So it's really important for us to keep our doors open to make sure they know we're here to support them through this trying time," said Sister Nancy Downing, executive director of Covenant House.

Like all organizations, the nonprofit has made some crucial changes. It has set aside a quarantine space in case a youth starts experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Cleaning supplies, tissues, and hand sanitizer can be found throughout the building, where staff is regularly disinfecting common areas and all surfaces. There's a two-week stock of emergency supplies and food at all times. But the key to keeping youth calm is maintaining as much normalcy as possible.

"As you can imagine our youth are pretty scared right now. They've been through a lot of trauma already," Dowling said. "We're trying to make sure that our young people have the services they need, that we have social workers that are there to talk with them to make sure we're addressing their fears."


It's crucial these teens know help and services are still available at any time.

Over in Hillside, New Jersey, the state's largest food bank is doing the same: Letting its clients know they will not go hungry.

LINK: The Community FoodBank Of New Jersey

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is working hard to keep pantry shelves full so people can stock up for weeks at any time. The FoodBank is also making emergency kits, and encouraging visitors to call ahead so it can help maintain social distancing. But fewer volunteers and visitors through its doors ultimately means fewer donations.

Both organizations need your help to continue essential operations during this time.

The Covenant House is not canceling its annual "sleep out," an event that draws hundreds outdoors to sleep on the cold streets of New York City, raising money and awareness for the nonprofit. Instead the "sleep out" will be done virtually.

This Friday, participants are invited to sleep out in place and connect through videos.

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