COVID-19 volunteer group celebrates success

Cliff Kenyon

The Cold Lake COVID-19 Response group is declaring mission success.

With two military members and two veterans plus new friends and helpers the group has in the past three months jumped in to help out in the community during the pandemic.

Truth is there was no formal mission. There were no orders given or received. It was a group of people who got together, embraced a cause, and proved they were determined to succeed. The goal was to help feed those who were perhaps less fortunate, house bound because of the pandemic or seniors stuck at home.

“Cold Lake has proven to be an amazing community of volunteers who want to help out,” said Christie Strazza, one of the organizers of the group.
Cpl Allison Janes, who is a volunteer at the Cold Lake Food Bank, was the founder of the group. When the pandemic hit in March, she was worried about food bank regulars and others who would be unable to make it into the food bank to pick up supplies.

Janes did more than worry about their plight. She wanted to do something to help. She talked the her friends. They decided they would deliver meals twice a week to pandemic shutins. More and more people jumped on board when they learned about the cause and they wanted to help out, too.

This month, as the worries of the pandemic faded and their services were no longer needed, drivers who volunteered to help out and make the deliveries, dropped off their last meals. During the three month period, the group had prepared and delivered meals to 60 recipients twice a week for a total of 3,000 meals.

“It’s truly amazing how many people wanted to help out to make this such as success,” said Stazza. “It was a lot of work, but a lot of people wanted to help out.”

Lori Geneau took care of administration and dealing with the deluge of request for help and offers of help.

Cooking the meals with her family members as prep cooks was Chef Jolyane Dumont, Joly’s Fine Cuisine, a Cold Lake caterer.

“She said they would make the meals if we delivered them, said Stazza. “They wanted something to do and we kept them busy.”

Finding volunteer drivers and donations was never a problem for the group.

Dave McDonald at Sobeys helped with donations of food, especially fresh produce.

Rob Ealey, general manager at Pourhouse in Cold Lake, helped out with donations from every sale at the location.

“He worked tirelessly to help out,” said Strazza.

Strazza said: “We couldn’t have done it without all the help we got. Cold Lake is incredible.”