Gwinnett community sets up Compassion Stations

A Gwinnett County community is coming together to help different groups in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aimee Appling lives in Hamilton Mill in Dacula, a sprawling community of more than 2,000 homes in northeast Gwinnett County, and came up with the idea. Forced to shelter-in-place, she wanted to do something that could involve her four kids and help others at the same time.

“What we decided is that each week, we’re going to focus on a new need in the community,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

She created Compassion Stations, tables with bins on top and homemade signs encouraging neighbors to donate items for that week’s cause. The stations are up not only in her neighborhood, but each of the small subdivisions within Hamilton Mill. The number is now up to 15 and has spread to neighborhoods in Buford, Winder, and Hoschton as well.

Last week they collected much-needed items for the North Gwinnett Co-op, and this week they’re collecting healthy snacks for the doctors and nurses who work at the four hospitals operated by Northeast Georgia Health System.

“They’re needing protein bars, nuts… things that will sustain them because they’re not getting breaks; and if they do, it’s quick,” says Appling.

The stations are also collecting homemade masks using a specific pattern provided by the hospital or fabric and flat elastic to make them.

They began collecting the items Monday and will do so again today and Friday. All will then be brought to Appling’s house to be distributed to the hospitals.

“Right now, people feel helpless. We want to help, but we don’t really know how we can help. And so, the response that I’m getting is, ‘Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to do something. I feel helpless and I haven’t known what to do’,” she says.

And the needs keep growing. She’s gotten a request to help a nearby food pantry next week and plans to collect snacks for first responders the following week.

Appling has since created a Facebook page to keep her neighbors informed.

“Any neighborhood can set up a Compassion Station—all throughout Atlanta. I mean we could be doing this everywhere,” she says.

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