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Beacons of hope in a sea of darkness

Dene Moore: ‘There is light. It is us.’

It is in the darkness that we need the light. And it is dark.

We know now that the extraordinary measures being taken to fight COVID-19 will be a matter of months, not weeks. We are beginning to see the same terrifying arc of illness in this country that has paralyzed others. We are starting to understand that there is only so much medical science can do and that there is no lab-grown magic bullet that will drop this killer in its tracks.

But there is light. It is us.

Because we’re also starting to see that there are more good neighbours than there are hoarders and more good deeds than bad.

Caremongering instead of scaremongering. That’s the motto of dozens of Facebook groups that sprung up this week across the country, where thousands of volunteers are offering help to seniors or those sick with coronavirus.

But there is light. It is us.

In Nanaimo, the satirical website Nanaimo Beacon has more than 800 north-island residents signed up as “Beacon Buddies,” willing to pick up groceries and run errands for those is self-isolation.

In Kamloops, good Samaritan Katrine Simoes is offering to run errands for vulnerable folks in her city.

"I was really upset seeing all the people posting about toilet paper for $100 and this and that. I’m like, 'Oh my goodness, what can I do?'" Simoes, a teacher, told KamloopsMatters. "I said, 'I want to be part of the change, as opposed to just being upset.'"

The College of Physicians and Surgeons has been flooded with responses after the province put out a call last week for recent retirees they could press into service when the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

In Prince George, the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple has increased the frequency of its free food langar – pick-up only – and the newly formed Covid PG Volunteers for All had 545 people sign up in a week.

At least a dozen B.C. craft distilleries, like others across Canada, are making sanitizer with the alcohol byproduct of the distilling process. Legend Distilling in Naramata is giving away 250 ml bottles of sanitizer spray for free because sanitizer is in high demand but hard to come by in stores. Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery in Revelstoke is going so far as to deliver their ethanol sanitizer to the doors of vulnerable residents in their community.

At least a dozen B.C. craft distilleries, like others across Canada, are making sanitizer

Many First Nations communities, like the Lhtako Dene near Quesnel, put together food boxes with necessary cleaning supplies, as well as diapers and baby formula for those who need it. And toilet paper, of course, because remote residents are coming into town – sometimes a loooong way into town – to find they can’t get any because of a few fools.

In rural communities like the South Cariboo, where I live, there are few of the services that are available in cities to make things easier. We don’t have grocery deliveries or Uber or Skip the Dishes. At least, we normally don’t.

Since the province declared a public health emergency, several local businesses have added delivery to the menu – and not just of their own products and services, but others.

Seniors and others vulnerable to the virus can place grocery orders with Canadian 2-for-1 Pizza in 100 Mile or health and safety company Ready Set Safety. Deliveries are free of charge.

“I decided the best thing I could do at this point in time, is to make sure to care for our elderly because they’re most susceptible,” Ready Set Safety owner Sven Birkner told the 100 Mile Free Press. “They don’t get a chance to get out very often and when they do they get overwhelmed.”

And in 100 Mile a volunteer list is being compiled by the South Cariboo Sharing and Caring group, which aims to help seniors and other vulnerable people in the 100 Mile area with grocery delivery and other errands as needed.

In the Cariboo, we learned during the wildfires in 2017 that you can’t control the chaos that this world will bring to your door but you can control how you respond to it.

Dene Moore is an award-winning journalist and writer. A news editor and reporter for The Canadian Press news agency for 16 years, Moore is now a freelance journalist living in the South Cariboo. Moore’s two decades in daily journalism took her as far afield as Kandahar as a war correspondent and the Innu communities of Labrador. She has worked in newsrooms in Vancouver, Montreal, Regina, Saskatoon, St. John’s and Edmonton. She has been published in the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s magazine, the New York Times and the Toronto Star, among others. She is a Habs fan and believes this is the year.


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