Makoha Farms in Saanich has started the Community Food Project to drop off food bags to those in need. (Courtesy of Amy Lobb)

Greater Victoria businesses pivot to help community with funds, food

Businesses change up operations amid COVID-19 pandemic

Local businesses and organizations are pivoting to help community members as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Macdonald Real Estate Group will donate a portion of their agent’s monthly office fees to the Victoria Rapid Relief Fund. The fund is raising money for COVID-19 emergency relief in the region. Local registered charities and qualified recipients providing front-line services to vulnerable populations whose operations and staff have been impacted by the pandemic are able to benefit from the fund, which has raised over $5 million since March 21.

The Victoria Foundation chairs the fund and received the first donation of $1,200 from Macdonald Real Estate Group as well as a commitment to continue monthly donations while real estate agents work from home.

“We saw an opportunity to shift the focus and support our community during this critical time,” said Ara Balabanian, managing broker of Macdonald Realty’s Victoria and Sidney offices. “Real estate has been deemed an essential service by the B.C. Government so while the doors to our office are closed, we are fortunate to be able to continue offering essential services to clients from our homes.”

Dodd’s Furniture & Mattress is also supporting the Rapid Relief Fund. The furniture retailer is donating 10 per cent of all online sales at doddsfurniture.com. Cash donations can also be made in-store at Dodd’s in Victoria and Campbell River.

Habitat for Humanity Victoria’s ReStore is moving to online sales as well. The eStore at habitatvictoria.com lets customers browse products and arrange for curbside pickup at the West Shore location or delivery of larger items within Greater Victoria for a small fee.

“As a charity retailer we wanted to provide this opportunity,” said Jim Walker, director of retail operations for Habitat Victoria. “We understand many of our shoppers are looking for more affordable options for their homes and cannot always afford to buy new.”

The ReStores are also gearing up to accept donations from the public again but in the meantime ask donors to hang on to items. The charity has continued to receive products from the local business community.

“It’s not business as usual, but we are back and working towards opening up more services as soon as we have all the safety procedures in place,” Walker said. Habitat Victoria has experienced a loss in revenue and donations but is moving forward with build projects this year in Central Saanich and North Saanich.

Makoha Farm in Saanich has also started a new initiative called the Community Food Project. Partnering with Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association and Langford Fire Rescue, the program is set up to offer ongoing support for those in need throughout the farming season.

The farm is putting together food bags with items from Makoha Farm and other small, local food suppliers. The bags are then delivered in a contactless method while maintaining the privacy of its recipients and contributors. The recipients are identified by Makoha Farm’s partner organizations. Community members can purchase a food bag, priced at $29 or $39 through the Makoha Farm online store at makohafarm.com/shop.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca

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