As COVID-19 concerns lead to widespread shortages of certain items at city grocery stores, a Yellowknife man is stepping up to deliver essentials to elders and other at-risk members of the community.
Adeel Moghal took to Facebook on Monday to offer delivery services to seniors aged 65 or older. He’s also providing the service to people with pre-existing health conditions who can’t make it out to stores.
Moghal is asking residents in need to send their phone numbers to him over Facebook. From there, Moghal said he’ll pick up requested items and drop them off to people across the city. He plans on presenting receipts to be reimbursed for the items.
“I just want to help the people,” Moghal told NNSL Media.
Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, face masks and a variety of grocery goods have largely disappeared from store shelves across town in recent days, leaving owners struggling to keep up with the high demand.
There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the NWT, or in any of the territories, as of Tuesday morning. The global outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week.
Health officials, urging social distancing as cases rise across Canada, say most young and healthy people who contract COVID-19 will only show mild symptoms — but they stand to transmit the virus to the elderly and people with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues.
Born in Pakistan, Moghal moved to the NWT in 2016.
He wants to give back to a community that’s shown him nothing but kindness.
“This city has given me everything. People are so nice. This is the time to step up and help others,” he said.
During recent grocery runs, Moghal said he’s noticed essential items being bought up by younger demographics, leaving little for those most in need — people like his mother, who lives with a pre-existing health issue.
“It’s a situation where everyone is panicked,” he said.
“We can work together to face this problem and reduce the burden on our health care system,” Moghal wrote on Facebook.
He’s not the only one pitching in to help the city’s most susceptible citizens.
Sheila Champion launched the Facebook group “Yk stay calm and help our elders and sick,” on Sunday night. The group, meant to coordinate the collection of in-demand essentials, reached some 150 members by Monday night.
“I just kept thinking about how my parents would have fared in this situation because they both passed away from things that would not have gone over so well here — my mom had heart disease, my father had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” said Champion.
“This would have been terrible for them.”
Champion has been making the rounds to city stores, spending from her own pocket to buy soap, canned soup, granola bars, juice boxes, toilet paper and a host of other items.
With the help of other Yellowknifers, she hopes to put together and deliver 50 care packages to the community’s most in-need.
She said the Facebook group offers an online space for residents to share what’s needed most — and who needs it.
Those in need also include low-income families, said Champion.
While Champion called the community support she’s received so far “amazing”
— people have donated money and offered to help deliver goods — it’s not unfamiliar.
She was one of thousands evacuated from Fort McMurray during the devastating wildfires of 2016.
“While it was a different situation, the same panic and fear is there for a lot of people. I can see it in their faces. They just don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like because everyday it seems to be looking different,” said Champion.
“Even if one person gets help, that will make everything worthwhile for me.”