Amid coronavirus panic, locals rally together to help those in need

Murrieta City Councilmember Jonathan Ingram wipes jugs of water with disinfectant wipes before dropping off at a Murrieta senior couple’s home, March 23. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Ingram has been making daily essential deliveries to seniors who are not leaving their home due to the threat of the coronavirus. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Businesses, friends, families and strangers have all come together to help aid one other during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus disease of 2019, COVID-19, since its initial outbreak has caused many businesses to lose money or shut down completely, causing essential stores like grocery shops to be flooded with customers, which has caused a shortage of food and supplies.

“I’m not quite sure where to go from here,” Jan Vyse, aka Annie from Annie’s Cafe at 27313 Jefferson Avenue in Temecula, said. “We’re trying to do the right thing to help people out. We’ve sold lots and lots of eggs, bacon, sausage, bread, rice, beans and toilet paper like it’s going out of fashion.”

Vyse has had to cut down the staff.

Murrieta City Councilmember Jonathan Ingram includes toilet paper on one of his deliveries to the Wons in Murrieta. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“I received an email from the health inspector which is obviously sent out to everybody to let us know you’re only allowed 10 people and that includes staff,” Vyse said. Since the pandemic began, they’ve only been taking in about 25% of what they normally do.

Vyse said she hopes they’ll be able to keep sales up with take out.

“People are just too frightened to come out, it’s just so scary out there no one even wants to walk out their front door,” she said.

Local Murrieta resident Jennifer Meacham, who has a family of 10 altogether, has been helping the community by handing out her own supplies.

“We have a neighborhood watch, news type thing for people right here in our community, so I’ve kind of been posting stuff on there,” Meacham said. “If there are any elderly people that need help, my husband’s offered to pick stuff up and go over there and drop stuff off for them.”

Avoiding contact, Councilmember Jonathan Ingram places the water and toilet paper on Whitey Wons and his wife Faye’s front porch. Ingram includes jugs of distilled water for CPAP machines the couple both sleep with. The Wons are both seniors and have not left their house since the COVID-19 outbreak. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

This provision has included Facebook and Instagram.

“I’ve had extra formula and wipes because I’m the type of person that naturally just always stays stocked up, because we have such a big family, so it’s just easier so I have more than necessary for right now,” Meacham said. “I just put that out there for anyone that needs it, and there have been people that have come and picked up wipes and picked up formula.”

Meacham and her children have also helped distribute food at Community Mission of Hope at 41760 Rider Way in Temecula, one of the local food pantries.

“I want my kids to know that when I’m gone, if there is a pandemic when they’re adults, that this is how we need to try and handle it,” Meacham said. “We’re just checking in with neighbors and friends, strangers. Who else is going to do it?”

One of the best things Meacham has seen since she started helping, she said, has been people picking up supplies for others, not just themselves.

Whitey and Faye Wons of Murrieta wave as Councilmember Jonathan Ingram departs after making a delivery of essential items to the senior couple in Murrieta. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“I had someone who reached out for wipes and it was for her friend, and she lives in Rancho Cucamonga but she works out here. It’s crazy that she’s not able to get wipes,” Meacham said.

Meacham said this is also a good time to work on things.

“If relationships need mending, now’s a good time,” she said.

Local churches are also working to do their part.

Tim Thompson, senior pastor of 412 Church at 41831 McAlby Court, Unit B, in Murrieta recently decided to use their church as a drop-off point for packaging and getting food distributed to those in need.

“There was a picture going around on social media of an old lady where she’s going through an aisle, and her shopping cart is empty and everyone else has food in their carts, and we just thought, that’s horrible,” Thompson said.

“We know that many of them can’t go out because they’ve been quarantined because of their age or their physical condition, so we thought let’s find a way. I know a lot of the stores are opening early, but even then, some of them don’t have the finances to just go and stock up,” he said.

The church’s physical building is currently closed due to the pandemic, but the church has made it a drop-off point for people to donate. They’re working alongside The Colony, a homeowners’ association in Murrieta.

“We’re a drop-off place. We’re going to package it for them and they’re going to distribute,” Thompson said. “We’ll just continue doing it so long as there is a need.”

The Pike family, who recently lost their home in Murrieta to a house fire, is currently staying in a hotel amid everything that’s been going on with the pandemic.

“The whole coronavirus thing, it’s just really made it a lot more difficult for us to deal with issues that we have from losing our house and all of our possessions,” Jamie Pike said.

“The community, it’s amazing,” Pike said. “You know, we’re all quarantined, and it’s every other day somebody texting ‘Hey, if you want to come by and get dinner we can have it ready for you’, or ‘Hey, what do you need today, how can we help you today?’”

Since losing their home, Pike had received 60-75 bags of donated clothes from the public.

“The laundry here (at the hotel) is $3 to wash, $3 to dry, and you have to dry the load twice, so it’s $9 for one load,” she said. “So if you think about your whole wardrobe, and we’re a family of five, getting everything washed may have been a couple hundred dollars.” Pike reached out on her Facebook page to see if anyone could help her wash and dry them.

“People came to our hotel, took bins of clothes and delivered them the next day washed and folded,” she said. “It’s been amazing to see the community help and rally around everyone.”

In some ways, however, Pike said she has felt the recent pandemic has made the fire seem as though it’s not as big of a deal.

“The coronavirus has overshadowed our loss,” Pike said. “It should be a big deal, it should be something that we are allowed to be given time to mourn, and we lost our cat in the fire and everything we owned, and I just feel like we haven’t been given that opportunity.”

The Pike’s are taking it day by day, just like everyone else.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the plans that God has for us in all of this, and to see us come out on the end, because we will. We’re a strong family, and we’re going to be fine and make it.”

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at