Crowdfunding goal tripled for sending supplies to La Loche, Sask.

University of Saskatchewan medical students are raising money to send supplies up north to La Loche, Sask., and surrounding areas. Kate Morrison / Supplied

Fundraisers have tripled their initial goal in an effort to help out northern Saskatchewan communities impacted by the novel coronavirus.

One of the organizers, Kate Morrison, said the idea for the “COVID-19 Supplies for La Loche” fundraiser came from Dr. Kendra Morrow, who approached the University of Saskatchewan (USask) medical students last week.

READ MORE: Family of 15 navigate in-home COVID-19 outbreak on Saskatchewan First Nation

“Morrow, who is a family physician here in Saskatoon, had the idea after seeing the outbreaks of COVID in some of our northern communities and particularly in La Loche that had been particularly hit with the COVID outbreak,” Morrison said.

“(Morrow) wanted to help, knowing that there would be needs for access to different resources that are sometimes harder to get in the north and that we could help with that in terms of getting supplies to people who are isolating… and sheltering in the home so that they can do that safely and comfortably so that we can hopefully flatten the curve.”

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A crowdfunding page was organized by the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan (SMSS) and went live on May 7 with the original goal of $15,000.

“We thought we were pushing it at the time. We had originally been like, ‘Oh, maybe $5,000’ and then someone said ‘Maybe put it to $15,000,’” Morrison said with a laugh.

“We had always said we would keep the fundraiser open until Tuesday. And so we have just kept it open and said if people would still like to donate, obviously there’s still a need and the supplies will still reach those communities,” Morrison said.

READ MORE: Métis Nation Saskatchewan considers help from Red Cross as COVID-19 outbreak worsens in north

As of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the GoFundMe had reached $47,225 and Morrison said they’ve also received some direct deposits.

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“It’s incredible. It’s been really amazing to just see how willing everyone has been to donate and to help. And I think it’s just been an absolutely overwhelming response of support for these communities, which I think speaks further past the dollar amount,” Morrison said.

“It’s just a really nice show of support for those people up in the north right now, who are in these outbreak areas.”

Kate Morrison said there are probably about 20 to 30 active student volunteers who are all working behind the scenes, and then we’ve also just had lots of community members and businesses both in Saskatoon and up north helping out. Kate Morrison / Supplied

The third-year med student said around 20 to 30 SMSS members are working off lists from the northern communities to decide on which supplies the donations will be used for.

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“For La Loche, specifically, that has included things like activities for kids to use in the home and toys… as well as board games and that type of thing for quote: ‘whole family fun of everyone in the house,’” Morrison said.

“Hand sanitizer as well as is on the list and … toilet paper, bleach, all that kind of stuff as well.”

“We’re working with multiple community members who will help distribute items to various households and isolation units.”

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La Loche COVID-19 victim’s family warns others to take the disease seriously – Jul 2, 2020

The unexpected response has been so positive that supplies will be transported by truck on Friday as well as next week, Morrison said.

The GoFundMe expires at 11:59 p.m. on May 12.

La Loche is roughly 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

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