Erika Strauss Chavarria, organizer of Columbia Community Care, uses a disinfectant spray to sanitize bags and boxes of donated food and household items collected and organized by her and other volunteers in the parking lot of Swansfield Elementary School in Columbia on Thursday, March 26.

It’s been five months since Erika Strauss Chavarria first started Columbia Community Care as a Facebook group to collect donations for Howard County residents in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since mid-March, the Facebook group has grown from 900 members to more than 6,000 while the organization has received nonprofit status and community volunteers have helped more than 38,100 Howard County residents.

With school about to begin in the county, Strauss Chavarria is tweaking the program.

Beginning Wednesday, Columbia Community Care went from offering drive-thru pickups five times a week to two, while consolidating from its original five locations to three. The three sites — Swansfield Elementary and Oakland Mills Middle, both in Columbia, and Howard High in Ellicott City — will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

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