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Halifax resource centre delivering care packages as demand rises for food, hygiene products

Amanda Avery is one of the five staff members at Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre working on making the care packages. Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre

A centre located in the heart of Metro Halifax is delivering care packages filled with food, educational resources or fun activities to the doorsteps of families and individuals in need during COVID-19.

Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre is located in the centre of the region’s largest housing community, which has 350 homes.

Normally, community members would come in the centre for coffee and breakfast, but the way these programs are being delivered now has changed due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia non-profit, Family SOS, calls upon public: ‘Bringing in food is our main challenge’

“What we’re trying to do now to keep on helping the community is create care packages,” said Donna Sutton, executive director of the centre.

She said a staff of five people are working on these bags, which include non-perishable items like canned food, vegetables and some fruit.

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Some packages would also have personal hygiene items, such as shampoo, toothpaste or nail polish depending on the needs of the individual that will receive it.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia charities face uncertain future as ‘fundraising pie’ sliced by COVID-19

Sutton said even new moms in the community would receive all the stuff they’ll need, like wipes and diapers.

“We’ve already put over 100 care packages in the last few weeks, which is a lot,” she said. “So people are really super excited and the demand is there.”

Sutton said that the problem is that many in the community don’t have internet service to know about the care packages, so the centre is spreading the word by placing a flyer inside the bag to let people know about what they are offering.

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“[The flyer] would say to please call anytime because we’re here to support, so we have people that don’t have internet access calling to request a bag,” she said, ” and we’d give them the time when we’d have it on their doorstep.”

Sutton said the three staff would help deliver the bags without coming into contact with anyone from the homes.

“People have been very grateful and happy, and we’ve had the opportunity to make people happy. And that’s what we’re here for. It’s been a lot for these families.”

READ MORE: Premier’s ‘delightfully Nova Scotian’ cry to respect physical distancing goes viral

She said women are especially struggling now as their kids are at home. For that reason, the centre is also making ‘creativity kits’ for kids and young teens by providing crayons, play-dough and other materials.

On Tuesday, the Wonder’neath Art Society also donated 30 ‘Art kits’ for people aged 12 and older to stay busy and creative at home.

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“The phone’s been going non-stop over [the new Art kits],” said Sutton.

But as the demand for the various kits is increasing, Sutton says they’re looking for extra support with their care packages.

She says Feed Nova Scotia has already helped them by donating food items, but said it’s still hard to have and maintain enough items.

“There’s so many people within our community, as well as  in other communities that are looking for support,” she said.

“I mean, our focus, obviously, is on our public housing community, but we’re not denying anyone.”

Sutton said they’re currently looking for donations of non-perishable items, personal hygiene items, diapers and art supplies.

She also noted that people can contact the centre on Facebook or call them to make arrangements so that they can drop the donations somewhere and one of the staff would pick it up.

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