NEWLAND — Aside from wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining six feet of distance from others, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to quarantine when you have tested positive for the virus. Fortunately, for the residents of Avery County, the Avery County Sheriff’s Office is helping them do just that.
Since the county began experiencing an increase in Covid outbreaks in late October and early November, the sheriff’s office has taken it upon itself to deliver food and supplies to those who are quarantining. Homebodies only have to order food from the grocery store online or over the phone, and an officer with the ACSO will pick up the order and deliver it to the individual’s house and leave it at the front door.
“We’ll send a deputy out to get (the supplies), whether that be prescriptions that they need or simply groceries. Whatever they need, we’ll be happy to help them out with it. If they’re positive, we would rather them call us instead of them going out and getting stuff for themselves,” Chief Deputy Lee Buchanan said.
The sheriff’s office has been working in conjunction with other county agencies, including the Department of Social Services, as well as the school system to help get food and supplies to those needing to stay at home for at least two weeks. Buchanan says that food and medication are the two most important items that deputies have been delivering to people. It’s all part of the the community outreach that the office works hard to engage in, but don’t expect them to don red suits with sacks slung over their shoulders just yet.
“We haven’t started any kind of Christmas present delivery service, but if a family needs something, they can call the sheriff’s office and we’ll help them out,” Buchanan said.
Integral to the sheriff’s office’s efforts has been Reaching Avery Ministries, who have helped provide boxes of food to the deputies as they deliver goods and supplies to community members. Michelle Donaldson says that the health department helps keep them informed of who needs food and when.
“We’ll get phone calls about Covid patients from the health department, and they let us know of whatever they need. Nine times out of 10 it’s food, because they’re unable to get out and go to the store. Then we’ll get the (box) ready with meat and bread and all that stuff. Then the sheriff’s office will come out here, take it and drop it off on the porch of the client,” Donaldson said.
RAMs Rack is continuing to receive new clients due to people having their hours cut or having lost their job altogether. The nonprofit helps clients with assistance related to utility costs, rents and mortgages. The need is this area has increased as well since there is no longer a utility or housing moratorium in place.
“Now that it’s winter, people are heating their homes with electricity. In the first couple of weeks (after the moratorium ended) we saw a huge spike in cutoffs. Even now, we’re helping people with heating and stuff,” Donaldson said.
Still, RAM and the sheriff’s office continue to do what they can to help ease the burden of these challenging times on many Avery residents.
“We always want to be a service-driven agency more than an enforcement agency. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but we do think it’s going to get better. We all need to work together to get through it,” Buchanan said.
The Avery County Sheriff’s Office can be reached by calling (828) 733-2071. For those needing financial assistance, they can dial 211 or click to nc211.org.