Lethbridge organizations try to help vulnerable people during COVID-19 pandemic

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Lethbridge organizations try to help vulnerable people during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Alberta, how are Lethbridge’s more vulnerable residents coping? As Quinn Campbell reports, local organizations are coming together to make sure everyone has what they need during this pandemic – Mar 17, 2020

Albertans are being told to stay home, social distance themselves and wash their hands regularly, but what about those in our community who don’t have that ability?

“We are very aware of this population and their limitations as far as being able to isolate, so we are still going to be there for them, with precautions,” said Julie Kissick, co-founder of Streets Alive Mission.

She added some programs have been cancelled, but closing completely is not an option for the organization that services Lethbridge’s street population.

READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney declares COVID-19 public health emergency in Alberta

“We’ve been very busy, lots of clothes going out still, we trustee peoples’ money — we can’t withhold their money from them, so our trusteeship program is still going ahead. We just have to put different bodies in the chair.”

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Staffing at Streets Alive has been a challenge with parents having to stay home with children. Client hygiene is also a struggle.

“We have hand sanitizer but because our population tends to misuse it, it is by request,” added Kissick.

She noted staff has always had a stringent cleaning policy and are continuing to be diligent during the COVID-19 concerns. However, with more people staying home, there has been a slowdown in donations. The mission is in desperate need of jeans, with the last pair just handed out.

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Kissick said she hopes people will use this time at home to go through their closets and see what could be donated.

Getting critical items is also a struggle for the food banks in Lethbridge due to hoarding and panic buying.

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“When things are not in the grocery stores it makes it much harder for people to take them off the shelves and donate them to the food bank, so we are experiencing some shortages here,” said Danielle McIntyre with Interfaith Food Bank.

READ MORE: Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw tests negative for COVID-19, back at work Tuesday

The Interfaith Food Bank, Lethbridge Food Bank, and MyCityCare have partnered to make sure food can still go out to those who need it. The collaborative approach ensures if one facility has to close due to COVID 19, the others can still offer services.

McIntyre, however, said in order to run effectively, monetary donations are needed.

“It’s absolutely impossible for food banks to battle everyone else at the grocery store for what we need to serve our families,” she said, “so we are encouraging people to send in financial contributions so we can make much larger purchases, hopefully directly from the suppliers.”

For the time being, Interfaith Food Bank has also cancelled all of its extra programs like the community kitchen.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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