House of Lazarus responds to COVID-19

The House of Lazarus (HOL) in Mountain is having to re-jig how they serve their clientele in response to COVID-19. The valued food bank is still open, but they have adjusted their hours slightly and moved to a hamper-style service, so they don’t have people coming in and out of the food bank. Clients are asked to ring the doorbell when they arrive, and a hamper with canned goods, produce, bread, eggs, milk and meat will be put outside the door for them to collect. Executive Director, Cathy Ashby, says they have already seen a 30% increase in people using the food bank, with at least one new family a day accessing their services. Sixty-eight per cent of new clients are seniors.

The food bank is currently being operated by only two staff members and three volunteers who have donated their time to deliver food to those who can’t make it to the food bank to pick up their baskets. Cathy says this is a marked difference from how they usually operate. “We’ve had to downsize in employees, and we usually have 100 volunteers who help run our programs.”

Even with a smaller staff and limited number of volunteers, they are still making an effort to run many of the programs they know their clients depend on. This includes Operation Backpack, which provides breakfast, lunch and snacks for children in need to have on the weekend. Usually, the food packages would be delivered to schools in the area; but, now that they are closed, HOL is encouraging people to come pick them up at HOL, or at the South Dundas Municipal Centre on Fridays.

Unfortunately, due to provincial orders, HOL has had to close their thrift store and are not taking donations of household items or clothing at this time. This was a big blow to HOL, as about 60% of their revenue comes from the thrift store. Cathy says that, thankfully, she has seen an upswing in monetary donations, which is helping them remain sustainable and able to continue supporting the community. “I’m really thankful for the community support,” she says.

The only non-food related program they are still running right now is their income tax program. People needing help with their income tax can drop off their information at HOL and have it done by a professional. Cathy says this will ensure that people who rely on the child benefit and GST benefit will still receive it.

HOL is always looking for both food and cash donations to help them support people in need. They are currently running low on things like peanut butter, canned meats (tuna, chicken, ham) and cereal. Cash donations can be made through their website, and food can be dropped off on a table outside the door of the food bank. HOL is currently open Monday-Friday from 9 am-2 pm. Anyone with questions about donating or accessing support can call HOL at 613-989-3830.

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