COVID news: Pandemic pressures increase demand, decrease donations to charities

Pandemic pressures continue to push charity groups to their limits, as more Canadians rely on their services, all while facing a steady decrease in community donations.

At the Debra Dynes Family House, a multi-service organization that assists community members to meet their needs, its food bank has run dry. There is no meat, dairy or produce; only a few dozen cans of baked beans, tuna, pasta and sauce and nowhere near the amount of diapers and toiletries that are needed.

“Every day we look at empty shelves I’ve never had a crisis with this food bank ever to this extent,” says executive director Barbara Carroll. “The increase of prices simply cannot be met by people who are the most vulnerable in Ottawa.”

Carroll says the center is trying to feed 3,500 people a month, which is more than double pre-pandemic times, and the crippling inflation that followed.

An Ottawa Food Bank truck arrived at around noon Tuesday with a seemingly massive delivery of bread, fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs and poultry, but the stark reality is it won’t last long.

“It will only last two days,” says Carroll. “We simply cannot keep up anymore and that the donations simply aren’t there in the way that they were.”

The Debra Dynes Family House, like many other charities in the capital and across Canada, must also rely on community support through donations, and a new report shows that those numbers are falling.

Charity group Canada Helps www.canadahelps.org released its annual Giving Report and found that, overall, there has been a 12 per cent decrease in Canadians donating to charities and that one-in-four are expecting to give less this year.

“Charities are really facing a severe amount of demand, especially the organizations that are on the front lines of social service charities, like shelters, food banks, even mental health crisis lines,” says Nicole Danesi, manager of donor marketing and special projects with CanadaHelps. “Eleven per cent of Canadians are currently using charities across the country in order to access basic needs and if the pandemic effects and inflation continue, that number could increase to 26 per cent this year.”

Martin Winges knows donations have declined and it’s why he continues to push even harder to help raise money by taking food collections and raising cash at both of his Wild Wing restaurants, including auctions for a suite at two upcoming Ottawa Senators hockey games. Winges’ location on Prince of Wales Drive at Meadowlands is only steps from the Debra Dynes Family House.

“The neighbors are good to us here and we want to be good to them we want to help them however we can,” says Winges, adding he will work to match up to $5000 in donations. “There’s a lot less of the pie to go around, so it’s really important to try to help each other out where we can … We’ve heard the plea and we really want to get that word out that the food banks really need some help .”

The Debra Dynes Family House is committed to improving the quality of life for multiculturally-diverse families, children and youth who are low income and working poor, through a range of services and programs that are community driven and meet their needs. Donations can be made here.

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