Wanda Earhart is fielding calls from families who rely on the Every Woman’s Centre’s adopt-a-family program for extra help at Christmas who are concerned that COVID-19 will prevent it from going ahead this year.
She wants to reassure them that despite the ongoing pandemic, it is a go, although the program will see changes.
“Over the last week we've been getting calls pretty much every day asking us are we going to do it, what are we going to do this year, what does it mean because of COVID-19,” Earhart said.
As usual, letters will be sent to long-term donors. There is concern support could be down this year.
“People have had their (work) hours reduced, when it comes to you know coming together for adopt-a-family, a lot of times it's groups,” Earhart said. “And people not wanting to go in the stores to shop, we anticipate there will be some of that.”
The initial change is that the centre is beginning to get the word out about the program in late September as opposed to late October. While in past years several days were set aside for in-person registration, this year will see the centre block off additional days in order to focus on registering families by phone. Telephone registrations will begin Oct. 5 and run to Oct. 16.
Anyone registering is asked to have all of the required documentation on hand before calling the centre to help staff who are anticipating a large number of calls.
In previous years, clients were given a designated date, coinciding with alphabetical last names, to receive their packages. Due to restrictions on numbers in the building at once, this year families will be given a designated appointment day and time, with only one person at a time allowed in for pick up. Masks and sanitizing procedures will be in place.
The procedure for those who come forward to assist families in the community will also be affected. The major change will be the timeline of when a family can be chosen and when the parcel must be returned to the centre.
“It gives people who are going to support the families enough time to get a family, go shopping, and have the parcel back earlier than normal,” Earhart said.
Every Woman’s Centre also employs a shopper to help out with the purchases.
The centre recently went through a dry run on a smaller scale with its back-to-school program.
“What normally would have taken us three or four days for back-to-school took almost three weeks to do the distribution because you could only let one person at a time come in,” Earhart said.
“For adopt-a-family, it’s pretty much five times worse than that.”
Community support for the back-to-school program remained strong, she added.
While COVID-19 has presented challenges for everyone, Earhart hopes people will remember the needs of families in the community are still strong despite the pandemic. She said the intention is to continue to run the program as well as possible while ensuring health and safety.
For more information, call 902-567-1212 or email email@example.com.