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Facebook fundraisers seek to provide meals for Newport News essential workers

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a couple of women teamed up through Facebook to feed medical staff, first responders, and restaurant workers on the Peninsula.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — While many Virginia residents are being urged to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, others are on the front lines.

Katilynn Saunders and Catherine Lathrop have teamed up to provide meals for doctors, nurses, police officers, and firefighters on the Peninsula, all while supporting local restaurants by purchasing the meals there. They’re seeking donations through Facebook to do so and are calling the fundraiser "Food for Fighters."

"Food for Fighters really was a small way that Catherine and I felt that we could give back to our community," said Saunders. "They're still working every single day. They're risking their lives to take care of us."

"We got this; we're with you; we appreciate you. Those words mean so much to them," said Lathrop, calling the essential workers her heroes.

Saunders and Lathrop set a goal to raise $2,000 to feed workers at Riverside Hospital, the Newport News Police Department and the Newport News Fire Department over four weeks. As of Tuesday, they were just $80 shy of that goal. 

"With so many people losing their jobs, we feel so fortunate to have raised what we've been able to raise so far," said Lathrop. 

Saunders added that the fundraiser is "a really great way for us to support our local businesses as well. That's been a blessing for them, too."

Although they had been working together to coordinate the online fundraiser, Lathrop and Saunders' interview with 13News Now was the first time they met in-person... while still practicing social distancing. The two connected and organized the fundraiser through messages on Facebook. 

"I put it out on our neighborhood Facebook page: 'I have this idea.' I wasn't sure how to execute it, though," said Lathrop, adding that the post got Saunders' attention. 

"I reached out to Catherine, and she embraced it and was so excited to have help," said Saunders. "And we just made it happen."

The two say that even through the computer screen, they could tell they shared a sincere appreciation for the sacrifices of healthcare personnel, first responders, and restaurant workers during these uncertain times. 

"They need us just as much as we need them," said Lathrop.

"They're giving up time with their families, keeping their families safe and their houses. They're giving up time that... they could be purchasing groceries and just staying inside," added Saunders. "The least we could do is send them a meal."

You can donate to Food for Fighters through PayPal at foodforfightersva@gmail.com or through Venmo @foodforfighters.

Additional contributions can be arranged by contacting the Catherine Lathrop and Kaitlynn Saunders directly through Facebook.

For more information about the Food for Fighters fundraiser, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/3323732214321428/.

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