Islanders are coming together to help each other, even as they keep a healthy distance away from each other.
With the ongoing concern about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many seniors, people with weakened immune systems or individuals who are part of otherwise vulnerable populations are nervous about going out in public and increasing their chances of coming into contact with the virus.
In response, people from less vulnerable demographics are volunteering to run errands or drop off goods and services for those concerned for their safety.
Troy Beck, of Miscouche, has been buying and dropping off groceries to vulnerable neighbours for several days now. He gets a request list, buys it, drops it off on their doorstep and they clean it before taking it into the house.
“Just being good neighbours is what everybody needs to do,” said Beck.
A lot of those offers to help are being coordinated via social media groups, like Caremongering – PEI: Response to Coronavirus, which was set up by Bedeque area resident Jane Affleck.
Affleck said she got the Caremongering idea from friends in similar groups in Nova Scotia. Caremongering (a reversal of scaremongering) groups have popped up across the country as Canadians try to help each other stay socially distanced under difficult circumstances.
Affleck is also a sessional instructor at UPEI and many of her students are international without a lot of support on P.E.I., so she was also thinking of them when she created the group.
“It’s good to have these places where people can come to feel like they still have some control over what’s going on,” said Affleck.
The Caremongering group is keeping tabs on requests for help and doing what it can to co-ordinate deliveries safely. Precautions are being taken to make everything as clean as possible before supplies are dropped off.
PAYING IT FORWARD
Members are also sharing ideas about keeping children entertained, cleanliness tips, news updates and any other number of subjects and requests.
“I hope it’s just this pay-it-forward thing that just keeps rolling,” said Affleck.
Skip Beairsto, of Kensington, is organizing a similar effort in his area, co-ordinating deliveries of essential supplies for seniors and other vulnerable populations. He is collaborating with the local Meals on Wheels program to get the word out to people who may not use social media. His Facebook group is called KTown Senior Assist.
“We’re just trying to limit the exposure, certainly, to our seniors,” said Beairsto.
He added that anyone who would like to request some assistance can call his company office, W.B. Beairsto Insurance, and leave their contact information. The number is 902-836-3447.
Islanders are also thinking of their four-legged friends and neighbours. Sunnybrook Farms pet supply store in Travellers Rest is organizing deliveries of pet food for anyone who does not feel comfortable being in public.
THE RIGHT MOVE
Business owner Becky Donald said it felt like the right move to make under the circumstances.
“It’s an easy thing to do, so why not do it if we can,” said Donald.
“I’ve had so many messages from our customers saying ‘if you need help, we’ll deliver for you too’.”
Her 18-year-old son will not be returning to school anytime soon, so he has volunteered to make many of the deliveries.
Potato producers Farm Boys Inc., of Arlington, is also organizing deliveries of their potatoes anywhere in Prince County to encourage Islanders to stay home as much as possible and follow social distancing recommendations. It's not something they usually do, but they’re offering 50-pound bags of spuds for $10, to be delivered each Thursday.
They’ve had a tremendous response from a lot of people who are afraid of going to the grocery store, said Bryan Maynard, co-owner of the farm.
P.E.I. Bag Company even donated the bags for the effort, he added.
"We like to think everybody has someone looking after them, but it's just not always the case.”
Since the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced Islanders have been encouraged by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison to stay home unless buying groceries and to seriously consider whether each trip out is essential.
“The best way for us to come together right now is to stay apart,” Morrison told reporters Tuesday.