Helping Out is in Toronto’s DNA.
Let’s face it. We’re living some scary AF times right now. The COVID-19 outbreak has now resulted in the province declaring a state of emergency. Grocery stores got slammed like it’s the apocalypse, and the streets of The 6ix are more sparse than ever before. It almost feels like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from — or a replay of a old movie you watched over the weekend. Generally though, despite a few ugly moments (where Torontonians attacked local grocery stores in a panic) we’re a super supportive city. We’re known to come together whether in pride, or fear.
Businesses on the other hand, are typically a whole other ball game. Look at Amazon sellers. People traveled across America to hoard hand sanitizer to try and gauge people by selling these necessities at a premium. Monetizing people’s fear. It’s disgusting. Luckily, Amazon shut them down quick. Now they’re stuck with hoards of the stuff and don’t know what to do with it. They deserved it though… right?
Thankfully, across the city, province and nation, brands are genuinely rising up to the occasion and wearing their heart of their sleeve. So we set out to hunt for those brands who are genuinely making a difference during this coronavirus crisis, to bring you some positive updates to brighten your day. Because all we’ve been bombarded with lately is nothing but spine-chilling negative headlines day after day. It’s time for a change.
Here are some of the most heart warming Community Support Efforts during this Coronavirus Pandemic:
FLYGTA offering COVID-19 Relief Flights for Stranded Canadians
FLYGTA is set to offer relief flights for stranded Canadians from the US, Caribbean and other Canadian locations. This will be done to help those who are mostly affected by increasing flight cancellations from WestJet and Air Canada.
Celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s restaurant group shuts down all restaurants and donates food
The McEwan group has temporarily shut down their restaurants and donated perishable food items to Second Harvest in response to the COVID-19 situation. Their Fine Foods locations (McEwan Don Mills, McEwan Yonge & Bloor and McEwan TD) will remain open until further notice. In addition, they are offering a 10% Senior Discount the first hour of store opening to make it easier for the elderly to shop for groceries. Their McEwan Catering division is also offering 15% off all online orders at McEwanCatering.com using the code: MARCH2020.
Local Toronto Boutique PR Firm offers local businesses free crisis management support
Toronto PR Firm, Spectyre Agency, is offering up their services for free, to provide Crisis Management support services to local business like restaurants needing their support.
Federal Government considers extended tax deadline to June 1st and offering financial support to Canadians in need
Along with the extension of the tax deadline to June 1, a financial support package for Canadians will be sent by the government as well. These would include measures to help Canadians with their mortgages and provide payments for those who are not usually qualified for Employment Insurance.
Major Canadian Internet Providers keeping Canadians connected
Telecommunication companies including Rogers, Bell and Telus will be waiving any additional usage fees for residential internet customers. TekSavvy would also stop charging overage fees until April 5, while Bell and Telus will be waiving overage fees until the end of April.
Local Distillery Re-Dedicates Production Facility Towards Producing Hand Sanitizer For Ontario Residents
Spirit of York, based in the historic Distillery District of Toronto, will be using the alcohol from their facilities to produce an alcohol based sanitizer to combat the shortage of hand sanitizers. It follows the guidelines set forth by WHO and will be offered at their distillery from March 19. All proceeds from this sale will be going to Local Food Banks.
Feed It Forward seeks donations from restaurants to deliver meals to those in need
Feed It Forward, lead by chef Jagger Gordon, is taking donations from restaurants that are closing down due to the state of emergency, to repurpose the food to deliver meals to those in need. People in need are welcome to contact them to request a delivery — subject to availability. A good friend of ours, Mitch Krystanos (who’s a true leader in giving back to the Toronto community), introduced us to Jagger and is working closely with him on this initiative. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or @feeditforwardofficial.
Organizations like DreamMind Group and KA Canada offering food and essentials for seniors in isolation
DreamMind Group is coming together to assemble food boxes that will be distributed to seniors. The DreamMind president, Abbis Mahmoud, has personally contributed the first $40,000 to kickstart this project. The food kits will be delivered to the doorsteps of those in need, with the first set of kits to be ready for delivery by tomorrow. If you know of anyone in need, you can make a donation to ensure that enough food will be provided during the quarantine period. You can support their efforts by donating towards the cause.
KA Canada is offering food and essentials for seniors in isolation due to COVID-19.
Local Grocery Stores and Pharmacies reserve first hour of their hours of operations for seniors to shop safely
Shoppers Drug Mart reservers their first hour upon opening during these times to seniors to allow them to shop safely.
No’Frills, Loblaws, McEwan Foods (as mentioned above), etc. reserving first hour of business hours to seniors and physically impaired to shop safely.
Glad Day Bookshop supports LGBTQ+ in need
The Glad Day Bookshop has created a fund to help support the LGBTQ+ community during their hour of financial need. All donations will be split between LGBTQ+ artists, performers and tip-based workers to assist with food and housing.
SkipTheDishes supports restaurant partners with 30-day support package
This move by the food delivery platform will allow for millions of dollars to be directed back to the restaurants on their network. Skip will also be launching a new initiative wherein customers can leave behind a tip for their favourite local restaurant. It will be an added option on the menus for customers to include a tip when they place an order, with 100% of the contribution going towards supporting the restaurant.
Peace Collective helps provide meals to Canadians in need
The lifestyle brand has partnered with local food banks to provide three meals to Canadians in need. This is done with every garment sold from the famous “Home Is” collection. The company has also expanded the “Home Is” collection to include: The East Coast, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. By doing this, they can reach more Canadians across the country through each region’s respective local food bank.
National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada launch $100K relief fund for Canadian artists
The relief fund will pay Canadian artists who have been impacted by COVID-19 for online performances. The NAC will receive applications from artists, after which selected artists will share an online performance between today and March 31, 2020. In addition, some of the artists’ performances will also be shared on NAC’s Facebook page and can be discoverable with #CanadaPerforms.
Rogers supports Food Banks Canada’s efforts to address critical food shortages
Due to shortages and growing increase in demand, Food Banks Canada has announced a goal of raising $150 million to fund the public’s need for food for the next 90 days. As such, Rogers will be donating one million meals and will also help run a national awareness campaign. With the help of its television channels and radio assets, the campaign will reach more than 30 million Canadians each week for the next four weeks.
Toronto’s Storyteller Beverages now delivers free hand sanitizer with all deliveries
Toronto’s Storyteller Beverages, creators of Storyteller Lager and Bees Knees, is now offering free deliveries across the GTA, plus free hand sanitizer with every order. Storyteller has partnered with Niagara Falls Craft Distillers (who has halted production to produce hand sanitizer) to ensure the GTA can stay at home and still get their favourite beer, cocktail and locally distilled spirits via contactless delivery and can avoid going store-to-store hunting down hand sanitizer. Delivery is free for orders of $75 or more or can be added for $10. An 8 oz complimentary hand sanitizer can be added to any order.
Endy Donates Mattresses & Sleep Essentials to Frontline Healthcare Workers at BC Hospital
The company has partnered with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, an acute care and teaching hospital hit by COVID-10, to donate enough mattresses, pillows, and mattress protectors to create comfortable sleeping quarters for the entirety of the doctors and nurses providing round-the-clock care on the frontlines.
Flow Alkaline Spring Water donates $1,000,000 of spring water to hospitals and care providers in North America
The company has donated to several locations and helped hydrate hundreds of front-line healthcare professionals at Southlake Regional Health Center Foundation in Ontari, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Toronto. Some of the other locations for the donations include Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Feed the Frontlines in Toronto and Vancouver, downtown outdoor walk-in/drive through and Hotel-Dieu Hospital (both COVID-19 testing centers) in Montreal and many more.
Stella Artois launches Rally for Restaurants gift card program to help local restaurants and bars
This gift card program calls on Canadians to come together to support local restaurants and bars to offer them immediate financial relief. Restaurants simply have to sign up to be part of the program at www.rallyforrestaurants.ca. A consumer can then purchase a gift card for a local restaurant, bar or pub, to which an additional $10 will be added by Stella Artois to the value of the gift card. And the establishment will immediately get the money. This is open to ALL bars and restaurants across Canada without any stipulations on redemption.
Four Brothers Pizza gives away free hand sanitizers
In partnership with Vaughan-based Last Straw Distillery, all of the Four Brothers locations has started to offer customers complimentary hand sanitizers. Made in accordance to the World Health Organization’s recipe and process, the Last Straw Distillery’s 220ml bottled sanitizer is gentle on hands and made onsite at their licensed facility in Vaughan, Ontario.
Second Harvest distributes over 800,000 lbs of food to Canadians in need
Throughout March, Second Harvest distributed over 800,000 lbs of food to Canadians in need and also partnered with Toronto Public Library branches to help distribute food and reduce the impact COVID-19 has had on food insecurity. To maintain the steady distribution of supply, Second Harvest is encouraging the support of Canadians during these trying times.
NutriCanine donates 1,000 lbs of dog food
The raw dog food delivery service has donated dog food to vulnerable and immunocompromised members of the community, as well as those financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Toronto-based startup aims to help ensure that everyone can continue to access healthy, nutritious food for their pets amid store closures, self-isolation and social distancing. NutriCanine will also be reducing prices by 30% on every order placed within the next 30 days and will continue to offer free, contactless delivery on all orders.
GrapeBrands Fine Wines & Spirits and Charlie Burger’s Announce $32,000 in Donations to Support COVID-19 Research
The donation sum is a combination of the total cumulative profit from case sales of wine for home delivery since the beginning of April (amounting to $10,000), along with a matching donation of $10,000 each from the Moez & Marissa Kassam Foundation and the KANDL Artistique, respectively. An additional $2,000 was generously provided TraderTV.Live.
Pay It Forward Toronto
Don’t let it stop there. Together we can make a bigger impact. We’re stronger together. Whether it’s by making a donation, spreading the word, thanking and appreciating those who do, or stepping up and volunteering where necessary, or even just showing your support through a call, text or video chat. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
We all have been, or will be, in a position in need. Might as well pay it forward.
We’ll rise up, wiser and stronger, after it all. Stay safe Toronto, and thank you, for just being you. <3
Know someone who’s a trailblazer or community activist who’s literally putting their life on the line to help out during these times? We want to get to know them. These unsung heroes deserve a spotlight, and more. Either slip into our DMs, tweet our editor @mr.stevenbranco, shoot him an email at email@example.com, or leave a comment below.
Updated on 04/29/2020