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#WeSeeYouKSHB: Kansas Citians create mutual-aid resources for those in need

Merry Outlaw webpage.png
Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 18:19:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People in Kansas City are putting their heads together to come up with new ways to help those who need it.

Leawood native Elle Kolkin is part of a group of college students and recent graduates who want to do their part to help others. The group created a mutual-aid website called covaid.co, which allows people all over the country to join and request help or volunteer.

"When you partner with people who have the right skills and care enough, you can do a lot in a little bit of time," Kolkin said.

When volunteers sign up, they can choose from a list of options for assits others, like helping with food and groceries, offering emotional support, making a donation, delivering medication or other activities.

"You can really tailor your volunteer experience to how you want to play a part," Kolkin said.

Anyone who needs assistance can search by their zip code on the homepage and get connected with volunteers in their area.

Kolkin said the platform has more than 1,200 volunteers signed up around the country. A handful are from the Kansas City area, but she wants more people to know about it.

"It's just a really good, centralized way for people to coordinate their mutual-aid efforts," Kolkin said.

Another resource that will launch later this week is a monetary donation app for those struggling financially created by Kansas City native Lindsay Smith.

"If everybody donated $10 who is able to and still has a stable job, we would be helping a ton of people," Smith said.

Smith is the founder of a nonprofit called the Merry Outlaw, which works to share resources among community members.

The group normally gathers for meals in group settings. Since that is no longer possible, Smith wanted to come up with a new way to keep serving.

"I think there's a lot of people that want to help right now and don't know exactly how to do that," Smith said.

Smith said her app will allow people to request up to $300 once per month. Anyone who sees the request can respond in full or in $10 increments directly to that person via Venmo or PayPal.

Right now, Smith is trying to get the word out about the app so there will be enough funds to meet the amount of requests. She said it will be available from the group's website when it launches.

During a time when it can be difficult to feel like you're being productive, both women hope their platforms can help people stay connected with the community.