St. Stephen – Even though the Province of New Brunswick has lifted some of the restrictions originally put in place due to COVID-19, there are still some people who are unable to get out to get certain things they need, or simply can’t afford to purchase these items. Donna Linton, coordinator of the Volunteer Centre of Charlotte County, Inc. said for this reason, they are giving out 25 to 30 care packages that include many essential items that people need, including face masks.
Linton said this program is not typically for seniors, as there are other organizations that are giving out care packages for people over the age of 55. The packages at the volunteer centre are mainly for those who are under 55, and who aren’t able to get some of these items otherwise.
“We thought, we’ll get some of those packs to hand out to families over 55, but these are for younger people under 55 who wouldn’t have the means to get masks. In a lot of them, there’s a cloth mask and two disposable, or three disposable,” said Linton.
Also included in these care packages are Purex wipes, Kleenex, disposable gloves, toilet tissue, a tooth brush, tooth paste, goat’s milk soap, individual wipes, and feminine protection items for women. There is also a list of emergency numbers with the packages, as well as details on how people can connect with the food bank if they need help.
Linton said these packages are available to anyone who needs them, and they are not just for food bank clients. She said there are 25 to 30 packages available, and they also have extra masks and gloves for those who need them.
Linton and her staff and volunteers at the food bank are also trying to find new ways to reach out to people, to find out if there are families who could use their services but are afraid of the stigma that is attached to people who need to use food banks.
“There has always been kind of a stereotype or myth saying you’re a loser if you use a food bank,” said Linton. “It’s to the contrary. Being without food on a temporary or even a longer-term basis is really common these days. I remember when I first started in this job, they used to say only 2 per cent of the people are on social programs and will qualify for your service. I’ve heard recently it’s as high as 4 per cent of the population now.”
Linton said there have been some positive things happening in the wake of COVID-19. She said they have had about a 30 per cent drop in clients using the food bank, which she thinks is awesome. They have not been hearing nightmarish stories from people who are being threatened to have their electricity shut off, and many people have been able to get caught up with their bills, thanks to the CERB payments. They have also not heard of people being evicted during these past couple of months for late or non-payment of rent. Linton said some of these clients have been able to return to work, and that the CERB payment helped them to get by until they could get back to their jobs.
“That CERB payment gave them the opportunity to get things paid up and within a short amount of weeks, a few of them have gone to work. So, maybe the continued CERB payment, the ones who are employable, let’s see if it catapults them into jobs in the community.”