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Edmonton volunteers step up during COVID-19 pandemic: ‘Your time is always valuable’

Edmonton volunteers step up during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: It's National Volunteer Week and with so many people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers everywhere are hard at work to help make life a little easier. Morgan Black shares how a few Edmontonians are donating their time.

Volunteers in Edmonton are finding ways to continue to give back to their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twice a week, Jordan Zabloski stops by The Mustard Seed for a few hours before beginning his work day.

“The first day [I volunteered at The Mustard Seed] I baked a couple hundred muffins. I was in the kitchen for an hour or two, I made care packages for the homeless, put together hampers,” said Zabloski, a residential realtor. “There’s always some way you can volunteer or help out.”

READ MORE: Kinsmen being used as expanded overnight shelter for Edmonton homeless

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Zabloski is one of many Edmontonians finding time to help vulnerable communities in between work and other responsibilities.

“It’s been really cool to see [Zabloski] and other folks who just wanted to come and help us right away,” The Mustard Seed’s Dean Kurpjuweit said.

“There were other people who couldn’t volunteer anymore because they were seniors or had a pre-existing medical condition. We totally understand that.

“When others come forward to fill the gap it makes a huge difference to us.”

The organization Zabloski regularly volunteers at is currently shut down, which prompted him to reach out to The Mustard Seed.

Jordan Zabloski during a volunteer shift at The Mustard Seed in Edmonton, Alta.
Jordan Zabloski during a volunteer shift at The Mustard Seed in Edmonton, Alta. Courtesy: Jordan Zabloski

Elsewhere, two longtime volunteers at iHuman Youth Society brainstormed ideas to help vulnerable youth without seeing them face-to-face.

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“[Rebecca Antonio and I] have essentially created a donation drive,”explained volunteer Shannon Sproule. “We are trying to get gift cards for grocery stores for the youth, diapers for young families. The things they don’t have access to.”

“Their needs haven’t changed. They are vulnerable and they are still at risk. It just made sense to continue doing my work in a different capacity, just from home.”

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“They came to us with the idea and our volunteer coordinator connected with them. That innovation is so helpful,” iHuman’s Matthew “Gus” Gusul said.

“It’s changed how we engage young people. We’ve switched to more virtual chats. We’re doing quite a good job. We’re able to get the young people’s needs met as smoothly as we can.”

READ MORE: Community volunteers cleaning up Regina alleyways

Antonio said there are many ways to step up for the community.

“Sometimes you can feel helpless…like you don’t have resources to give. But your time is always valuable,” said Antonio.

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“This is how we stay connected. This is a way we rise up as a community and continue to help all of the people in our city.”

It seems many Albertans are looking for ways to volunteer in the community, some for the first time. The Province’s new online tool Alberta Cares Connector saw thousands of people express interest, according to a Calgary organization that is looking for volunteers.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Province launches online tool, connecting Albertans with volunteer opportunities

This week both Premier Jason Kenney and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw encouraged people who can volunteer, to do so safely.

“I think there is a misperception that observing the public health measures means not being able to help others,” Kenney said on Wednesday, adding earlier in the week he put in a shift preparing food at Edmonton’s Meals on Wheels.

“But healthy people can volunteer and are needed to volunteer for so many organizations, many of whom have lost many members of their volunteer base in recent days.”

Hinshaw echoed Kenney’s comments, saying the need for volunteers is greater than ever.

“I know that during COVID-19, volunteering may seem dangerous. Of course, volunteers must follow all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus for their own protection and the protection of those they help,” Alberta’s top doctor said while explaining there are online guidelines for how to do so safety.

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“Kindness is contagious and our greatest strength during COVID-19 is each other.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asks Canadians to be ‘part of the solution’

National Volunteer Week runs from April 19 to 25.