INNISFAIL – Innisfail and District Food Bank recently received a different but albeit critically important donation.
It was not food. It was not milk, or basic necessities most financially challenged folks need for themselves or their families.
The donation on April 27 came from Michael and James O'Dwyer, co-owners of Palliser Chevrolet, and it was quite possibly lifesaving.
The pair donated 1,000 medical-grade masks for Innisfail’s vulnerable and financially challenged citizens, an item most if not every single client can not afford to buy but absolutely needs in this day and age of COVID-19.
Michael said General Motors produced medical-grade quality masks for the Canadian government and an additional 500,000 to distribute to their dealership network. The company encouraged dealerships to find an organization within their communities that could use the masks.
“We thought the food bank could distribute these masks to people in need, so it was an easy decision for us,” said Michael, whose dealership has served Innisfailians and others since 1984.
“I think what we are seeing is that everybody has to band together and do the little things to keep everybody safe, and masks are one part of that.
“We are just happy that we can help support people who may not be able to go out and buy them quite easily."
James said he and Michael want to make sure that anybody that does not have access to masks will have the opportunity to obtain them.
“And that is why the partnership with GM, and making them and then making them available for the dealers was such a nice thing for us and them to do,” said James.
Food bank officials said volunteers will immediately put the masks in food hampers and pass them on to their clients who won’t have to worry about having enough money to buy any with their limited resources.
"I just think this is an extra bonus. They then don’t have to buy them,” said Heather Taylor, secretary of the food bank. “And they get medical-grade in case there is any underlying issues with some of these folks, which in my mind there no doubt would be. Lots of times that is why people have to come to food banks because they can’t work.”
However, Val Davies, coordinator of the food bank, said volunteers at the agency are not hearing concerns from clients about COVID.
“To be honest, no. They are not as worried about that as where their next meal is coming from,” said Davies.
“I am just forever grateful for our community. I can not thank them enough for the donations that we get every day, and they are constantly coming in,” she added. “It hasn’t stopped since this whole COVID started. The community has not forgot about us and I am forever grateful and thankful.”