Facebook group helps connect people with the items they need

The group’s creator says she wanted to create a community of helpers

The beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak included hoards of people storming stores across the country, emptying shelves of items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and many food items.

Photos like this one are posted to the Facebook group started by Bette Ford, as people try to help others find what they need. Image courtesy Devona Kibby-Kandoll via Facebook
Photos like this one are posted to the Facebook group started by Bette Ford, as people try to help others find what they need. Image courtesy Devona Kibby-Kandoll via Facebook

Stores have implemented limits on many items, adjusted hours, and hired thousands of people in an effort to adjust to the demands of customers now staying home, and trying to prepare for the possibility of a multi-week quarantine.

Still, many items have remained in short supply, often requiring impeccable timing in order to find them.

Or maybe an assist.

Bette Ford, 70, started a Facebook group to help people find items they need. It now has over 1,600 members. Photo courtesy Bette Ford
Bette Ford, 70, started a Facebook group to help people find items they need. It now has over 1,600 members. Photo courtesy Bette Ford

That’s the idea behind a Facebook group started by Bette Ford, a Clark County resident.

“The idea came from my own struggle in trying to find sanitizing items and other needed items,” says Ford, “then also trying to be aware of having less exposure to everybody.”

Ford, who is 70 and has underlying health issues, says she was shocked at how quickly the page has grown. As of today, over 1,600 people have joined.

“I think it’s helping with people’s morale and stuff,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of ‘thank yous’ for creating the resource during this pandemic.”

The hope, says Ford, is that having others posting what they’ve found will make it easier for the elderly and those at higher risk of the virus to get in and out of the store quickly with what they need.

People signed up for the Help others find needed items (COVID-19) Clark County WA Facebook group to provide helpful tips about where to find scarce items during the pandemic. Photo courtesy Rose Corpuz via Facebook
People signed up for the Help others find needed items (COVID-19) Clark County WA Facebook group to provide helpful tips about where to find scarce items during the pandemic. Photo courtesy Rose Corpuz via Facebook

While Ford says she has had to remove one or two people for rude comments, in general the group has been remarkably helpful and supportive.

Some people post threads while at the store, noting which commonly needed items are in stock. Others make requests, wondering if anyone has seen something they need.

Usually the response comes in the form of someone noting where they’ve seen an item in stock recently. Other times, people step up offering to donate from their own stash.

Ford herself donated some bandanas to a woman looking to make masks. She left them on her porch and found a thank you note the next day in the form of a roll of toilet paper.

This roll of toilet paper was left as a thank you for Bette Ford by a member of a Facebook group she started to connect people with hard to find items. Photo courtesy Bette Ford
This roll of toilet paper was left as a thank you for Bette Ford by a member of a Facebook group she started to connect people with hard to find items. Photo courtesy Bette Ford

“I have just been surprised and proud that they are grasping the concept of what I had,” says Ford, “to make a difference and add support and hope to people.”

Ford is also an administrator for another group called Lovin my Neighbor, which also aims to connect people in need.

“I’m always thinking that somebody else must be in the same situation, and how I can help,” Ford says. “This was my avenue to find out.”

The Internet can be full of a lot of angry people and divisive issues. But it can also surprise you with a community of generous and caring individuals, looking to use the power of social media for good.

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