While fundraising for the foreseeable future has been put on hold, the Whitehorse Food Bank, seen here in 2015, has received a good amount of support from the community recently and is in a good spot, said Dave Blottner, executive director. Going forward though, as more people are out of work due to COVID-19, there is a concern that the food bank may not be able to provide all the supports it usually does.. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)

Service organizations contemplate the future

Community “outragously generous’, says food bank executive director

Non-profit service organizations are being forced to adapt to new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and look at what that will mean for the coming months with numerous fundraising events now cancelled.

At the Whitehorse Food Bank, things have changed considerably over a three-week period, executive director David Blottner said in a March 30 interview.

Not only has food distribution changed with social distancing measures in place for clients to pick up their orders outside the food bank, but it is also working to provide pre-made lunches and dinners for the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter.

And that’s come at a time when many of the food bank’s older volunteers are doing the right thing in following recommendations to stay home, meaning a loss of volunteer help. That said, a number of other organizations — the Boys and Girls Club and Rendezvous, to name a couple that have shut their doors — are making staff available to help with that.

“I can’t thank them enough,” he said.

Blottner said Yukon generosity came through early when a number of restaurants shutting their doors or moving to take-out only options donated produce and other goods when they had to close. Those donations came at the same time the food bank was forced to cancel its spring food drive, providing a much-needed boost.

“Right now, the community has been outrageously generous,” he said.

Looking to the months ahead, Blottner said it’s difficult to determine what things will look like as the situation changes day-to-day.

There’s considerable concern for the most vulnerable in the city as indoor spaces are increasingly closed. While the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter continues to offer services, Blottner noted there’s a number of other places around town that previously offered a warm space to be. At the food bank, for example, clients could come in for a coffee when they picked up their food.

That just can’t happen now and that has many worried for the most vulnerable.

There’s also concerns that, given the number of job losses, there will be more demand on the food bank’s services for some time.

Blottner said if anyone is interested in volunteering they can contact officials through the food bank’s website. For those who are staying home right now, there are also options to donate through the website which will help significantly in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Yukon Hospital Foundation is also dealing with the cancellation of a number of events that serve as major fundraisers for the organization and a variety of funds it administers such as the Yukoners’ Cancer Care Fund.

Among them are the Denim Day events, the annual summer golf tournament and a few Lego events it had planned, foundation president Karen Forward said in an emailed statement March 31. Forward also highlighted the cancellation of the Yukon River Quest and the impact that will have on the cancer care fund, which provides funds to families going through cancer treatment to help cover expenses. Forward said the Stix Together team paddles the River Quest each year, raising money for the cancer care fund.

“It is hard to predict how long this will go on. It will certainly lower some of our fundraising outcomes for the next year,” she said, emphasizing at the same time the generosity Yukoners have shown.

“We will have to see how things evolve in the next couple of months,” she stated in the email.

A major fundraiser for the hospital foundation in its effort to purchase hospital equipment is the annual Festival of Trees towards the end of the year.

While it’s difficult to predict how that will be impacted, Forward said officials are expecting less to come in through fundraising efforts like that over the next year.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

CoronavirusFood Bank