You’ve banged your pots and pans to thank coronavirus helpers, reduced your outside trips to keep the health-care system from overloading, and tipped your food delivery drivers well. When you do go outside, you’re social distancing and standing in lines to enter establishments with patience.
These excellent measures are appreciated by many front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you’d like to make their jobs even easier, there are ways to pitch in to the relief efforts safely and often from the comfort of your home.
This desire to help is fuelling many Canadians to start initiatives and pool resources to make the lives of those on the front lines a little easier.
Here’s how you too can thank and support the front lines, from sector to sector:
Do their groceries: Those who have access to a car can do grocery deliveries for busy workers who don’t have time for weekly supermarket trips.
Grocery Hero Canada matches frontline health professionals who need food delivered with volunteer shoppers.
Montreal resident David Yu built an international volunteer database called VolunteerAtlas, which allows Canadians to sign up to help with or receive delivery services.
Be a kind ear: Many workers are dealing with high levels of stress, which can be alleviated with emotional support. Consider checking in with loved ones who are on the front lines.
If you’re an Ontario social worker or therapist, you can offer counselling services to front-line workers pro bono. Those in need of therapy can schedule a free virtual psychotherapy session, thanks to the volunteer efforts of an Ontario COVID-19 network of mental health professionals. Therapists looking to volunteer must be licensed or accredited by an approved provincial designation.
Give what you can: Business owners, if they can afford to, may consider donating some proceeds or products to front-line workers.
Bigger businesses, like London Drugs, are holding special promotions or reserved hours for front-line workers to get their shopping done.
Keeping the food industry healthy
Get takeout: Ordering from your neighbourhood faves can keep them in business while the pandemic keeps everyone from dining in. Every Wednesday, Canadians are encouraged to order takeout from a local restaurant. The initiative by Canada Takeout is helmed by several Canadian celebrities, including figure skater Tessa Virtue and media personality George Stroumboulopoulos.
Deliver for your local eatery: If you’re healthy and have access to a car, you can help local institutions deliver grub to your neighbours. Small-scale projects like iRover in Toronto allow locals to help restaurants facilitate contact-free deliveries.
Order groceries from Chinese businesses: Chinatowns across Canada have seen a downturn in sales. It’s a trend that’s unfortunately been observed in the U.S. too, which has devastated the mostly small businesses that call these districts home.
Watch: Chinatown needs us more than ever. Story continues below.
If you live nearby, consider making your weekly grocery trip in Chinatown: Not only could they use financial support, but some online have noticed that unlike big-box establishments, there are rarely lines outside their local Asian grocers.
If Torontonians are looking for convenience, several Asian supermarkets are serving the Greater Toronto Area through the delivery app GOcery.
Many restaurants are also pivoting to alternative services, with a growing trend of “grocerants” delivering takeout and household goods. Franchise Earls Kitchen is selling fresh produce bundles for home chefs across Canada.
Give to a food bank: Assisting food banks can help low-income community members who work on the front lines. Non-perishable food donations work, but many prefer monetary assistance; food bank staff are better able to manage resources and can access warehouse or bulk deals unavailable to the public.
Toronto — iRover
Montreal — Moisson Montréal
Vancouver — VFBC Relief Fund, Greater Vancouver Food Bank
Calgary — Calgary Food Bank
Support for health-care workers
Donate PPE: Grassroots organization Conquer COVID-19 is accepting supply and financial donations to disperse to front-line health workers, as well as communities at large. They’re looking for supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as tablets, diapers and other infant-care items.
Make masks: If you don’t have medical equipment handy, crafty hands can still pitch in. Many hospitals dealing with supply shortages are accepting cloth mask donations and face shields, as long as they follow proper fit protocol.
Keep their bellies full: With an overloaded health-care system, breaks are few and far in between for those working in hospitals. Many restaurants and organizations are banding together to keep them fed and healthy. Montreal restaurants like Notre-Boeuf-de-Grâce have donated free meals to hospitals, thanks to funding assistance from NHL player Jeff Petry.
Those who donate to national group Sustain the Line can fund a health-care worker’s meal, made by a small business.
Solidarity is strong in the medical community. In Ottawa, medical students are raising to feed local front-line health workers through the initiative FrontlineFeeds.
Religious institutions have found strength in numbers when it comes to volunteer pooling. In accordance with the generous tenets of Vaisakhi, one Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., sourced community members to deliver free meals and groceries for hospital staff, CBC reports.
And cafés like Calgary’s Philosafy Coffee are giving free drinks to any Alberta hospital worker.
Give them a safe place to sleep: Many nurses and doctors are afraid of infecting their loved ones at home. Helping them find temporary lodging allows them to self-isolate after work, as a Windsor, Ont., group is doing: RVs for Canada’s Frontline connects health-care workers with motor homes in order to camp out in driveways.
The initiative Health Worker Housing connects property owners with health professionals who need free or low-cost rentals to stay in.
Help them with paperwork: Accountants are stepping up to help too, by providing free tax services for health-care workers in Ontario, as well as hospital cleaners.
Do their laundry: If you have access to sanitation equipment, like Calgary business Dolphin Dry Cleaners, hospital staff would appreciate getting their uniforms disinfected.
Toronto — Meals TO Heal
Montreal — COVID-19 Student Support Initiative
Vancouver — Feed the Frontline
Calgary — Dolphin Dry Cleaners, GroceryHero Canada
- Western Canada —
Standing with drivers
Acknowledge their sacrifice: Many transit agencies continue to run, providing vital services to commuters who still need to get places. Bus and streetcar drivers may appreciate a socially distant gesture of gratitude or a well-projected yell of “Thank you!” as you exit from the back of the vehicle. Transit agencies like Calgary Transit have appreciated kudos from commuters online as well.
Know a great local initiative or resource for Canadian front-line workers that deserves attention? Let us know through a comment on our social media: HuffPost Canada is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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