Community Highlight: White Pony Express
Many outreach organizations have been appropriately recognized for their contributions to people and communities in need during this COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, Time magazine created a special edition article complete with five different covers and twelve stories showcasing the incredible work people have done, appropriately titled “Heroes of the Front Lines.”
Weve already written about some of the amazing workers who made the cover. Less discussed, however, is the hard work of the eleven other essential workers described in the article. One of them, spotlighting a man employed by White Pony Express, describes the intense, necessary work done by the food rescue and recovery program.
Who is White Pony Express?
This nonprofit group based in Pleasant Hill, CA provides food and other necessaries to people who need them. They deliver to people and partner organizations in Contra Costa County, fighting poverty in their community.
They don’t just deliver food; they also believe that clothing and other basic items are a human right. So many businesses produce in excess and have nothing to do with the leftovers that they can’t sell; they want to contribute to those in need but unfortunately don’t have spare time to dedicate to outreach. Thus they connect with White Pony Express who can pick up donations from the source and deliver the groceries and other necessities directly to those in need.
White Pony Express also accepts donations from the general public. Anyone can give money, food, clothes and more; since they work with such a variety of generous organizations who support many different people, White Pony Express welcomes all kinds of gifts.
In addition to hand-delivering donations to individuals and organizations, they also run the White Pony General Store, which according to their website “distributes new and like new clothing, shoes, toys, childrens books and games to our Contra Costa neighbors in need. WPGS partners with local businesses, clothing retailers and individual donors to sort, organize and deliver high quality goods free of charge. To supplement the good done by the store, they also run a Mobile Boutique that’s functionally the same: Dedicated workers travel to set up temporary stores in lower-income areas that need their help. Anyone can come “shop” there, though really the General Store, like the organization at large, doesn’t actually charge anyone money for receiving these donations.
In the five years they’ve been in operation, White Pony Express has delivered over 9M pounds of food to people in need. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they’ve increased their productivity and expanded their scope to do everything they can for those struggling during this time.
What they’re doing now
Since COVID-19, more people than ever need help from generous organizations like White Pony Express. That’s why they’ve increased their workload to provide what’s needed. On April 9th, when the Times article came out, they were redistributing 17K pounds of food every day. To put that in perspective, they traditionally only rescue 6K pounds per day under normal circumstances. Of course, the world right now is anything but normal.
Their workers and volunteers still work as hard as ever, not because they have to, but because many simply care that deeply for what they do. In fact, some take the mission very personally: for example Cliff Strand Jr., the worker who Time interviewed for the article, was saved by the organization before he started working with them. Now he’s joined up and, in his words: “This is absolutely my mission. Its not a job. Im supremely blessed to be able to do this.
White Pony Express also gets close to the people that they help. They deliver to shelters, kitchens and similar organizations, but they also give baskets of food and other necessities directly to those in need. That’s how Cliff Strand Jr. first met them; an executive from the mission found him and brought him what he needed to survive. Ultimately, their help enabled him to turn his life around. Now he’s paying it forward.
With the workers and volunteers pushing themselves harder than ever, they have to take extra safety precautions to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. They want to help their community, not contribute to the problem. Thus everyone wears masks, changes gloves at each location they visit and takes all the mandated precautions against spreading the disease. Additionally, White Pony Express has added a “COVID-19 Rapid Response” page beneath the Donate tab on their website, which lays out the following information:
The reasons why they need supplies more than ever right now. The pandemic has created a scarcity, wherein more people than ever need essentials but have less income to acquire them, and businesses have less excess as they reduce their output or shutter their doors completely.
An explanation of what supplies they’re lacking and the funding required to cover it.
How to donate and volunteer.
Other ways to help the organization.
As this pandemic stretches on, organizations like White Pony Express continue to do the most important work of all: assisting those most vulnerable in the community. They’ve demonstrated what compassion, drive and dedication can do to push outreach efforts to new heights.
Now more than ever, people need a helping hand. In this crisis, anyone channeling the same efforts and care as White Pony Express is a hero on the front line.