Hospital staff with meals prepared by Tandoori Flame/Happy Singh Eats staff. Surrey’s business community, despite having massive challenges of its own, is coming up big for Surrey during the pandemic, argues Now-Leader editor Beau Simpson. (Submitted photo)

Column

SIMPSON: In taking care of its vulnerable, Surrey is showing what it’s made of

Stories about people helping others have overwhelmed the newsroom since COVID-19 hit community

The last time I talked to Feezah Jaffer, I could sense a slight uneasiness in the way she spoke.

It was not surprising. After all, the Surrey Food Bank executive director was facing one of the most challenging times in the organization’s history.

Off-site depots were closed. Volunteers and staff were down to a skeleton crew. Hours were adjusted. Everything needed to be constantly sanitized. Social distancing meant the number of clients in the building had to be limited.

And demand was skyrocketing.

“We’re also getting a lot more calls from clients saying, ‘can we register because we’re getting laid off,’” she told me. “We’re going to see an uptick in numbers in the next couple of weeks for sure.”

At the time, Jaffer said with restaurants either closing down or being ordered to switch to take-out only, donations of fresh produce and dairy were strong, but she expected that to quickly change.

“Next week it’s going to be interesting to see what our donations look like because that will be the true test of what is happening.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Food Bank rises to meet challenge but real test is yet to come

I called Feezah a week later to find out how the “true test” was going. It was immediately clear by the sound of her voice on Monday morning that something good was happening in Whalley.

Despite the fact that the average daily number of new registered clients had almost doubled, Feezah said Surrey had stepped up.

“We are doing amazing, for donations” she said. “I cannot get over the generosity of this community.

“We can’t keep up.”

On Monday, the food bank sent a tweet asking for donations of non-surgical masks for staff and volunteers to wear during food distribution. Feezah said it was only a matter of minutes before three separate people contacted them saying, ‘We’ll give you guys masks.’

“It was really amazing.”

homelessphoto

Feezah Jaffer is the executive director of the Surrey Food Bank. She said within minutes of posting a tweet asking for masks for food bank staff and volunteers, three separate emails came in with offers of masks. (Photo: Twitter @SurreyFoodBank)

Surrey’s business community, which is facing massive challenges of its own, is also throwing its support to the food bank.

“We’ve had a lot of companies who have called and asked us,

‘How can we help? What do you need? Do you need money? What can we do?”

One company gave the food bank money so it could buy cleaning supplies, and another company dropped off cleaning detergents and sanitizers.

“It’s just been crazy,” Feezah said. “Crazy good.”

And it’s not just the food bank that is seeing crazy good come from these crazy times.

SEE ALSO: Free meals at Scott Road restaurant for frontline workers, those in need

Stories about people helping others have overwhelmed the Now-Leader newsroom since the COVID-19 outbreak hit our community.

Businesses holding clothing drives. Breweries making free sanitizers. Residents gathering and delivering supplies. Restaurants offering free meals – not only to frontline workers, but those in need.

And in a drive to help those “in the trenches,” the SurreyCares Community Foundation is already seeing the community’s generosity shine in response to its new special emergency fund to support our city’s social service agencies.

SurreyCares asked me why the Now-Leader partnered with them in this endeavour.

“We have always loved sharing stories about how the community comes together during hard times,” I replied.

“If there’s one thing I learned about our city after living and working here for more than a decade, it’s that Surrey rises to the occasion – always.”

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. You can email him at beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 23: There is an outbreak at a Lower Mainland fruit processing plant

‘It’s just the language of it,’ Surrey businesses association says of COVID-19 ‘charge’

But Surrey Board of Trade says it’s good that businesses are being ‘clear and transparent’

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read