Children’s voices and the thumping of their steps normally fill the air at the Battlefords Boys and Girls Club.
But nowadays, it’s much quieter, as the club turned into a pandemic support service for the community in the wake of COVID-19.
“Prior to us suspending our regular programs and services, we would have upwards of … 60 to 90 children and youth here on a Monday-to-Friday basis,” says Nicole Combres, executive director of the Battlefords Boys and Girls Club.
“Since we have started offering our pandemic support service, we’ve offered meals and basic necessities to over 120 children and youth in our community.”
Although there is less play taking place at the club, the services they provide are still essential to the youth of the community.
Shelves that would previously be used for kids to store their backpacks and jackets are now being used to store non-perishable food donations and other basic life necessities. Kids from five to 14 years of age can come for a bag lunch, a book or a toy, and general hygiene products.
“They come and they get to see a familiar, smiling face which is that of our staff who they would normally be seeing — some Monday through Saturday. So it was important for us to continue to be supportive of our children and youth, and their families as well,” Combres said.
Providing food for kids is an important service. Several businesses in the area — even those experiencing hardship — are helping the club.
Local restaurant Blend is one of them.
They teamed up with Battleford Furniture recently to prepare nearly 600 Easter meals with the profits going to the club.
“You know they help a lot of kids and families in the city, a lot of people that aren’t going to get help in other ways, they really help the people that need it the most,” said Robin Petersen, owner and GM of Blend Restaurant.
“A lot of the business people here band together quite a bit and support the non-profits and big fundraisers quite often, and a lot of people just give here.”
“I think as a country, and a province, and specifically as a city of North Battleford and town of Battleford, that we will continue to look out for one another and support one another,” she said.
The Battlefords Boys and Girls is open as a pandemic support service Monday to Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
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. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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