Nonprofits, restaurants, donors collaboration serves front-line workers

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Tracy Steffen (left) of new non-profit "No Cape Required" with Candice Nicholas, events manager for New Life Culinary Creations makes a food donation to Murrieta Fire Station #4, May 1. "No Cape Required" is founded by members of both 100 Women Who Care Temecula Valley and Caring, Sharing & Giving. The new non-profit works to receive donations from members of the community to fund meals for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

No Cape Required was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the members of nonprofits 100 Women Who Care Temecula Valley and Caring, Sharing and Giving.

To date, more than 600 Riverside County essential and front-line workers have received free meals while on the job, thanks to the group that is only two weeks old.

And that number grows every day, said Tracy Steffen, a member of 100 Women Who Care and the person in charge of finding partner restaurants to provide the food to first responders.

Tracy Steffen of “No Cape Required” puts a cape on Murrieta firefighter Justin Mack for a photo after making a food donation to firefighters at Murrieta Fire Station #4. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Wildomar resident Cathy Early, founder of Caring, Sharing and Giving is the one who came up with the idea and created the ability for donors to contribute. She is also the regional area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.

“She was sitting at home going, ‘OK, what can I do?’” Steffen said. “We all have to stay home, but what can we do? She called me and two other ladies and we Zoomed and just talked about what we could do, and it just took off from there. Basically, we just had to get up and running with our No Cape Required website where we could have a donate button so that they could get their tax-deductible receipt by donating that way.”

Then they got to work.

Steffen said they have partnered with establishments such as Angelo’s Brick Oven Pizzeria of Wildomar, The Corporate Room, New Life Culinary Creations, Batter Up Bakery and Texas Lil’s.

Murrieta firefighters gather for a photo after a food donation provided by “No Cape Required”. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“We’re partnering our local restaurants with our front-line workers,” Steffen said. “We’re trying to help keep our local restaurants up and running through this as well as showing appreciation to our front-line workers.”

Steffen has a background in senior care, so they started there.

“They were kind of on lockdown with their seniors, but the employees were still working hard,” she said. “We fed those employees and then we got to branch into some of the emergency rooms, the 24-hour urgent care in Temecula, and we got to feed the workers in the Menifee urgent care.”

They have also delivered to a rehab facility, a dialysis center and hospital workers at Riverside University Health System. and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta.

“And then I got an in with the ambulance people, and we got to go feed the ambulance station in Murrieta,” Steffen said. “On Friday (May 1) we’re going to go feed three other ambulance stations. We’re trying to think of ones that might have been forgotten through all this.”

Even in the early days of this new organization, Steffen said the community response has been amazing.

“I feel like is every time I get something scheduled, the money just comes in,” she said. “It’s been great. I’ve been like, ‘Cathy, any more donations?’ I’ve got 50 people over here.’ She’s like, ‘Go ahead.’ And we do it. It just has worked out.”

Steffen credits the supporters of the 100 Women Who Care Temecula Valley and Caring, Sharing and Giving for the bulk of the immediate response.

100 Women Who Care Temecula Valley was launched in 2016 and is comprised of women of all ages and backgrounds who meet once each quarter to review and make donations to nonprofit organizations in southwest Riverside County.

Because they aren’t able to meet during the pandemic, they are throwing themselves into this project – and having fun doing it.

“I’m pretty passionate about this and we’ve been having so much fun,” Steffen said. “If you have been able to look at the No Cape Required Facebook page or 100 Women Who Care Temecula Valley Facebook page, you can see all the pictures. We fed the second shift on the fire station and my daughter had made me this pink cape and so some of the men just put it on and started running around with it and posed with it like Superman. It just made my heart happy because I think we can bring a little bit of fun into it, even during these crazy times.”

Visit https://wwww.caringsharinggiving.org to make a donation of any amount or to nominate a group of workers on any shift to receive a meal. Restaurants can sign up to participate as well. Phone call inquiries can be directed to Steffen at 951-733-7772.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.