Mercedes-Benz, coalition convoy supplies to Salvation Army shelter

Three vehicles left Mercedes-Benz USA headquarters in a convoy, Wednesday. The drivers were on a mission from Sandy Springs to the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Red Shield Shelter in downtown Atlanta. Their vehicles were loaded with 500 kits of donated healthcare supplies to help a homeless shelter run by the Salvation Army meet the demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

The donated packages of face masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, toilet tissue and hand sanitizer are increasingly needed, said Sgt. Janeane Schmidt, who oversees the shelter, which accepts those in need of a safe place to stay.

“Anything we do on the preventive side helps,” said Schmidt. “We have ramped up pretty high. We are disinfecting light switches, door knobs and other surfaces just because there are so many people here.”

The 320-bed shelter is typically full, but with the need for residents to stay quarantined during daytime hours, the demand on shelter operators has increased.

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Mercedes-Benz headquarters staff, based in Sandy Springs, delivered the items as partners in the Disaster Action Alliance. The coalition of 30 Atlanta-area corporations, nonprofits and organizations aid communities nationwide during natural disasters. The kits were donated by Mercedes-Benz, UPS, Alston and Bird, The Coca-Cola Company and InterContinental Hotels Group.

The Salvation Army Red Shield Shelter also participates in the coalition, however the other members were unaware of their need until the kits were discussed as away to help out during the pandemic, said Kat Reynolds, a Mercedes-Benz community relations specialist.

“[Janeane Schmidt] told us, ‘That’s something we need for the homeless at the shelter and medical staff in metro Atlanta,’” said Reynolds. “We all leaned in and said, ‘We are happy to contribute.’ As social distancing became more important, this became an in-kind donation opportunity. We pulled together and donated.”

Schmidt says the shelter is a transitional space for men, women, the transgender community and families. Many are working and putting aside money to have a place of their own. Currently there are 20 families at the shelter.

With the spread of the coronavirus, the people who would normally leave during daytime hours are remaining at the shelter. That has increased the need for staff to keep the center clean and disinfected.

“There is no way we can work from home or stay six feet from each other,” she said. “We are a congregant environment. We have to stay aggressive on [cleaning]. There is no way we can afford the gloves and other items. We’re already on a tight budget.”

The kits also included Tyvek suits —overall suits that provide protection from germs.

Schmidt said the general public learned about the donated items and have mistakenly called to request the supplies.

“They don’t understand the supplies are for us to use in the shelter,” she said.