'You're not alone in this': Canadians are 'caremongering' through the COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- The coronavirus pandemic has inspired kind Canadians to organize 'caremongering' groups offering help to seniors and those most at risk amid the outbreak.
At least 35 such groups across the country are rallying as an antidote to the fear brought on by worrisome headlines and the drastic measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.
As social distancing takes its toll, caremongering organizer Paula Toledo says the groups are helping bring Canadians together and spread kindness during a difficult time.
"You're not alone in this, and if you can have the resources to reach out when you need help, and there are people there to respond and help you out in those times, I think we can make it through," Toledo said in a Skype interview with CTV's Heather Wright.
Getting groceries or doing drug store pick-ups, volunteers are helping in any way they can.
"If I'm going to the grocery store, if I’m going to the pharmacy, why not extend my services to these people -- let me bring back what you need," volunteer Andrea Picco said.
But the services are going beyond the usual errands.
Computer experts have offered to help the less technically savvy set up home offices, while others have replaced the books in some Little Free Libraries with food for those who need it.
Sidra Mahmood has created a video chat to help those going through addiction recovery in isolation due to COVID-19.
"A bunch of friends have been struggling with using because we are all bored and boredom is such a big trigger for using," Mahmood said in an interview via Skype. "So we all kind of reinforced each other's goals."
Residents at the Wikwemikong Nursing Home on Manitoulin Island, Ont. have also found their own way to assist in the outbreak by sharing photos online with reminders to self-isolate and wash your hands.
Many businesses are also helping out their communities.
Toronto distillery Spirit of York is making hand sanitizer instead of drinks and providing it for free to seniors and those who are low-income.
"This is about us wanting to do something to rally around our community and help them out in their time of need," company founder Gerry Guitor said.
Mama Earth Organics, a weekly home delivery service of local and organic food in Toronto, has seen a surge in business during the outbreak, and is sharing the profits with its employees in the form of a "state of emergency bonus."
"We've pivoted to feel like we are an essential service and our teams are having to go to work so others can stay home," said Mama Earth's CEO Mary Graham.
Whether it's a shopping run, a virtual dance party or streaming a set list, Canadians are finding unique ways to help one another get through self-isolation.