You might feel a certain helplessness these days. The global COVID-19 pandemic is huge and scary, and it's abruptly disrupted our daily lives at work, at home, at church, and in the community.
But the Cathedral Outreach Committee says there is something you can do to help.
The food bank in Fredericton is seeing a sudden spike in demand for its already-busy service of providing food hampers to people in need. Many workers have been laid off by mandated business closures of uncertain duration, which is an unexpected disaster for people who live pay cheque to pay cheque.
Greener Village at 686 Riverside Drive has closed its clothing store and the learning kitchen, but it's still accepting donations of food and personal hygiene products. These can be dropped off at the back door of the building; the products are kept isolated for up to 48 hours prior to distribution.
You might not feel comfortable doing extra shopping or driving around town during the state of emergency. No problem. Food bank organizers say that online financial donations are especially needed at this challenging time. This can easily be done from home through Canada Helps or by going to greenervillage.org and choosing COVID-19 Fund from the drop-down menu.
Of course, all of us have our own bills to pay in this faltering economy and realize the cathedral does, too, so our Sunday offerings are of paramount importance [Read But how do we give... when we're not in church? for ways to continue your offering].
But, right now, it's impossible to sit and chat in a coffee shop, enjoy a concert, eat a meal in a restaurant, attend the cinema, go to a hockey game, get a haircut. Why not give what you would have spent on that type of activity to the food bank where the need is large and growing?
If you can see your way clear to share a bit of the money you'd normally have spent in the run of a week, there are other local organizations serving the poor who need help at this time.
For example, the homeless shelters have asked for donations of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, tissues, soap, packaged food and gift cards. All items dropped off at the shelter on 65 Brunswick St. will be sanitized before use by the staff or shelter residents. As with the food bank, their biggest need at the moment is money. Online donations can be made through Canada Helps or directly through their website theshelters.ca
Another possibility for your compassionate impulse is the Fredericton Community Kitchen. [Updated April 4] Normally, they operate a student hunger program to provide lunches for 350 children in 19 area schools, and 75 backpacks of food for students to bring home to their families on the weekends, in addition to operating providing hot meals at the kitchen downtown. Many people are currently in need, and will continue to require help even when physical distancing is relaxed. Funds can be donated online through Canada Helps or by visiting frederictoncommunitykitchen.com/covid19
Income tax receipts will be sent for your donations.
As you consider whether you can help the less fortunate among us in any of these ways, the Cathedral Outreach Committee suggests reflecting on Psalm 9:18 which says "But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish."
EDITOR'S NOTE - It is worth noting that the situation has been changing rapidly, but the information above is accurate at the time of writing.