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The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga launched a $650,000 Community Response and Resilience Fund to benefit coronavirus relief on Tuesday.

According to a release, the foundation and partners, including the McKenzie Foundation, the Maclellan Foundation, Benwood Foundation, the Weldon F. Osborne Foundation, and Truist, have raised the funds to promote financial relief for those impacted locally by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has already infected at least 15 people in Hamilton County.

"During times of crisis and uncertainty, acts of generosity give us purpose and inspire hope. I have been deeply moved by outpourings of kindness and the resolve of so many individuals who have stepped up across our community," Maeghan Jones, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, said in the release. "Because of their commitments, this fund will meet the urgency of the moment by deploying much-needed support to organizations providing critical support to our neighbors most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in our area."

The fund has already approved its first round of grants, with more than $220,000 committed to these local organizations, according to the release, to aid in their respective relief efforts:

— The Chattanooga Area Food Bank operates several programs to provide access to healthy food and end hunger in our community. The organization anticipates a 30% or more increase in food needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has already seen an increase in demand for its services. The fund approved a grant to increase the number of virtual vouchers for food boxes available for individuals and families in need.

— Chattanooga Community Kitchen, which works to meet the most basic needs of the hungry, homeless, and vulnerable in our community, serving three meals daily. The fund approved a grant to cover the supplies for additional guests and increased capacity expenses, including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer as well as funds to cover separate emergency shelter for healthy and sick guests.

— Metropolitan Ministries, which provides direct emergency financial assistance (e.g. rent, utilities, medications, food, transportation) to families and individuals in crisis as well as wrap-around supportive services that provide access to longer-term recovery and greater stability. The fund approved a grant to increase the number of people MetMin can serve each week, covering payments for individuals and families struggling economically due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

"At MetMin, we're often the first organization people turn to for immediate help in tough times. As this crisis hits families in our area, having additional resources to meet the rapidly growing need is essential," Rebecca Whelchel, executive director of MetMin, wrote. "We're rushing toward the COVID-19 crisis, ready to help and respond — and we're proud to do it with community partners alongside us."

As the outbreak continues, the fund will work with United Way and local government to identify further grant recipients to help with crisis relief, according to spokesman Joda Thongnopnua.

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