For more than 100 years, volunteers have been a big part of helping people enjoy the Calgary Stampede.
Now, with the 2020 edition of the event cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of those volunteers are finding a new way to serve the community.
Stampede volunteers are teaming up with the United Way and other local agencies to hold the #UnitedApart Basic Needs Round-Up on Saturday, July 11.
Volunteers will be driving around the city picking up donations of food and other essentials, like toiletries, diapers and cleaning supplies.
“Any community group that we can help support in this time of need I think it’s important for us to be part of,” Calgary Stampede president Dana Peers said Tuesday.
“This year, there’s no Stampede. We still have those volunteers that want to be making a difference, that want to be in the community, and so this gives them an opportunity to help out.”
Items collected during the Basic Needs Round-Up will go to the Calgary Food Bank and the Women in Need Society for distribution starting next week.
WINS said the need for its services has increased dramatically because of COVID-19.
“People are coming in who have no immediate shelter, no clothing, no food. They need mental-health support, they need everything,” WINS executive director Karen Ramchuk said.
“It’s almost scary — the new face of poverty is your neighbour, it’s my neighbour, it’s your cousin, it’s my niece. It’s anybody.”
The United Way said it’s doing everything it can to support people who find themselves out of work and out of options because of the pandemic.
“We really try to mobilize that spirit of Calgary and that caring and compassion,” United Way CEO Karen Young said.
“If we work together, we can really get this done and really support those that really need it the most. We really don’t want to leave anyone behind during COVID-19.”