Public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented the Boys & Girls Club of Thompson from offering its regular after-school programs, but the club is helping 18 families of its registered participants by providing food hampers twice a week.
The money for the groceries is provided by $5,000 in emergency grant funding that the club received from the national Boys & Girls Club organization.
“Food security is a real issue,” says Boys & Girls Club of Thompson after-school program director Crystal Brown, noting that the club provided snacks and supper to the kids in attendance while regular programming was still running. “We decided the best use of the funding was to continue providing that for our club members.”
The food hampers are delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and offer perishable food items that aren’t normally provided in food bank hampers, like fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and meat. The club buys about $600 to $800 worth of food per delivery. They send a list of the items they want to purchase to Family Foods, which picks out and boxes the items for Boys & girls Club of Thompson employees to pick up.
“Family Foods has really helped us,” says Brown. “Thank you to them for helping to make this a reality.”
Club employees Jaiden Crocker and Faiza Alabi deliver the hampers.
“It’s lots of fun,” says Crocker. “It’s nice to see the kids in person again. They’re excited.”
“Some of them are shy,” says Alabi.
Also included with one hamper a week are homework activity sheets for the kids and the club also delivered colouring sheets for a contest May 15. Every child who completes the colouring sheet will have their names entered in a draw to be held via Facebook live on May 22.
“That family will win $50 in Walmart gift cards,” says Brown.
In addition to the hampers, employees have also been calling club participants daily to speak with the kids, sometimes helping them with homework over the phone, while also providing their parents with resources on mental health care and stress management and tips on how to help their kids with remote learning.
The club has also partnered with the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation to provide $750 worth of books to club members that should arrive within the next couple of weeks.
“Even though we’re not running programming we’re still providing services and support within our community the best that we can with everything that’s going on,” Brown says, while preparing to reopen for in-person programming, though no definite date has been set. “We’re ready for when that day comes and looking forward to working with the kids again when it does.”