211 Helpline Center sees requests surge during pandemic

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:48 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A call to the 211 helpline center could be the bridge to getting groceries in your home. Betsy Schuster with the helpline center has seen the food requests triple this year.

"We've taken about 13,000 food requests this year. In comparison, last year, we took just about 4000," said Schuster.

If you call 211, Chelsea Schmidt may be the one to take your call.

"Where do they go for resources for rent, utilities, and stuff. And so just really calling it and asking for that help," said Schmidt.

Thanks to a grant, the Helpline center has partnered with Doordash to deliver necessities to homebound and isolated families. As of July 1st, 211 is statewide, with specific resources for every community.

"Small rural towns that we get to help direct those people," said Schmidt.

When the incoming calls spike, everyone is cross-trained and puts on a headset to take a call.

"And then at the end of the day, you're exhausted, but you just know that you were there to help support someone who didn't know where to go," said Schmidt.

The helpline is a clearinghouse for special grants and assistance during the pandemic. Each person taking the call wants you to know, don't be too proud or think others should have the help instead of you.

"That reaching out is sometimes very hard and so it's a safe place to call just to share your concerns and help. We'll help you walk through that process," said Schuster.

Outside of the pandemic, the helpline center is available to answer so many other questions 24 seven things like how to find childcare, where to register to vote, or how to hook up utilities.

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