By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — John Calipari is doing his part to help struggling families during the current coronavirus crisis that has crippled the state, nation and the world.
The Calipari Foundation, the Kroger Company, and Fayette County Public Schools will be providing food for families based in 37 elementary schools through April 20 and said if they “need more, then we will do more — eight weeks or more, we will go that way.”
“We are in uncharted territory and in times of uncertainty,” the Kentucky basketball coach said Tuesday in a teleconference. “Ellen and I have been looking for ways to help in our corner of the world. Thanks to Kroger and Fayette County Schools, we can provide some immediate relief with these funds and hopefully give these families one less thing to worry about. If schools remain closed past April 20, and we need to do more and extend this, the foundation will continue to help.”
Calipari also plans to help with another national project in the future.
“When you see what’s happening, it’s just going to make you sad, but what brings hope to me is I see people reaching out in our country conning together and to understand, people are suffering,” he said. “What can I do in my little space of the world? I can’t save the world, but what can we do here (to help). I just hope everybody is thinking in those terms.”
Calipari said his family is healthy and financially stable but recalled a time when things weren’t so good after his dad Vincent Calipari got laid off from the airline industry as “a fueler for airplanes” at age 55.
“At age 55, (he) no longer had a job,” Calipari said. “He had to work part-time for three years trying to build himself back up (financially). I know what my mother and father went through when that happened and as a family what that does. Anything Ellen and I can do (to help is a blessing).”
Like state and national leaders, Calipari urged people to “stay in your house, wash your hands” and use caution when out in the public and added that each responsible for “ourselves.”
“If you go out, which you should — walking around and exercising a little bit — (stay) six feet from everyone. I think what’s happening around us, we still have to be responsible for ourselves.”
He added helping others beyond your immediate family circle also is a priority during these uncertain times.
“It may start by helping a neighbor,” he said. “If you have an older neighbor who needs you to help with groceries or other things like that.”
In an effort to help out restaurants in the region, Calipari has been ordering takeout from local establishments and urged Kentuckians to follow suit by ordering curbside or take-out.
“Ellen and I started by trying to order out twice a day,” he said. “I looked at her and she looked at me and said, ‘We had better just do this once a day.’ We’re ordering out every day to make sure we are helping in that way.”
He added that 18,000 restaurant workers are without a job in Fayette County alone and asked that citizens support those displaced workers during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“If you are someone who does eat out and you get a certain server all of the time, maybe find out from the manager that server’s address and maybe send them (some support),” he said.
Calipari also has given to the student emergency fund at the University of Kentucky and added, “there are things in the community that you can do to help.”
“We’ve been blessed in so many ways,” Calipari said “Do what you can do (to help others). Every day this goes on is one less day we’re going to be in it. It will end, but none of us know when, but we have to listen to our leaders and what they are telling each of us to do.”
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Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.