Downtown Dinnertime

Main Street is void of activity Wednesday evening in downtown Bozeman.

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Gallatin Valley residents and businesses are organizing systems of support to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic fallout.

Bozeman Mutual Aid is a community aid organization set up by Bozeman residents Jeffrey Strock and Yimei Shao. The organization has more than 165 volunteers at the ready to help deliver groceries, prescriptions and any other support in the safest possible way. Bozeman Mutual Aid has also set up a fund to disperse money directly to people who are elderly, immunocompromised, sick or caring for a sick family member, but can’t afford to stay home from work.

“All funds will be distributed out to the community. We are running this as purely a community-based, volunteer effort,” wrote Shao and Strock in a news release. “We are working with a number of other community members to create a successful and sustainable mutual aid network. Keeping Bozeman healthy will require a multi-pronged approach from many different sectors.”

Strock and Shao aren’t the only people who are organizing to help their neighbors. Nicole Lamphier and Shauna Stephens, two moms in Belgrade, created a Facebook page called GV Community Support Volunteers last Friday hoping to help out.

“We were both thinking, maybe 30, maybe 50 people would jump in,” said Stephens.

As of Thursday afternoon, the page had over 1,400 members.

“Our first goal was the idea of neighbors helping neighbors and being able to come together as a community, and that has come together way beyond our wildest dreams,” Lamphier said.

The page is mainly an information hub, a place where people can post about which grocery stores are stocked up on things like disinfectant and diapers and where to find homeschool resources. The two said the page is overwhelmingly positive and something they hope continues to connect people with other people and resources.

Several businesses are also offering or expanding services to people who might not be able to leave their homes or be in crowded areas.

Price Rite Drug pharmacist and owner Randy Harrington said his business is offering free prescription delivery in the hopes that it will slow the spread of the virus.

“We’re offering it, really, to anybody that calls up and wants something delivered,” he said. “I just want to do our part in this whole thing.”

Harrington said that, for some insurance plans, patients taking their medication consistently can help keep costs down long-term. He doesn’t want people to make the choice between medically necessary isolation and medically necessary medication.

“A lot of those people have to come to the pharmacy, they don’t really have a choice,” he said. “We’re just doing whatever we can.”

Several grocery chains are also implementing hours for shoppers who have a higher risk of contracting the virus, including senior citizens. Albertson’s safe shopping hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Smith’s safe shopping hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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