We are all familiar with the domino effect – the theory that one event can create a chain reaction of other events, like one domino falling and causing an entire line of dominoes to fall.

COVID-19 has created an environment ripe for this phenomenon.

Here is a scenario that we have seen frequently over the past several months: A local woman working in the food and beverage industry loses her job because of the pandemic. Unable to afford groceries, she turns to a local food pantry.

The food pantry has experienced an exponential increase in demand. At the same time, the food supply chain has been disrupted, creating food shortages that leave grocery store shelves bare.

That means there is less food available for organizations like Second Helpings to rescue from the grocery store to supply to food pantries, right when the demand for food has surged. Food banks have scrambled to meet the demand, requiring additional funding so they can purchase food.

Now the woman’s rent is due. If she pays her rent, she will deplete her savings. That means she cannot make her car payment, keep up with utility bills or pay for her prescriptions. She faces eviction or repossession of her car.

It is the domino effect creating deeper and deeper debt.

Months later, the woman is called back to work. She now needs to dig herself out of debt so she can qualify to sign a new lease or acquire affordable transportation.

If she has children, she is torn: Does she stay home to help them with their schoolwork, or go to work so they have a roof over their heads? If she goes back to work, what will happen to her children?

The dominoes just keep falling and falling and falling.

We understand the domino effect COVID-19 has created for many of our neighbors. Through our Lowcountry Community COVID-19 Response Fund, we have awarded more than $556,000 in grants to 41 local nonprofits to attack food and housing insecurity, address medical needs, provide domestic violence services and overcome obstacles parents face with virtual schooling.

Your generous donations, along with our $200,000 match, made these grants possible.

Even with these grants awarded and distributed to those who need it the most, many challenges remain. While some folks are beginning to get back on their feet, the financial hardships they faced at the height of the pandemic could have long-term effects. Moreover, if a predicted second wave of COVID-19 hits our area, the needs will once again swell.

This pandemic is not over. The dominoes continue to fall and our Lowcountry neighbors continue to need help. Join us today to stop the dominoes.

Whether you have been involved in the past, are thinking you would like to be involved now, or you are feeling very fortunate because at this point the pandemic has not touched you directly, join us and help us create a domino effect for good.

Jackie Rosswurm, PhD is the interim president and CEO Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.