Article and Media by CTV News Northern Ontario

SUDBURY — A new program launched by the Sudbury Women’s Centre will help women and families in need get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the centre launched a basic needs program for women in the community who need a little extra help during this unprecedented time.

The packages are similar to what the centre has done in the past, providing donated items like hygiene products, household needs and clothing. But with COVID-19, the centre has adjusted to do thing a bit differently according to Executive Director Giulia Carpenter.

“Before COVID we never really gave out food, but we’ve seen an increase in the need because people are unable to leave their homes due to health or single parents with children or different financial situations,” said Carpenter.

The executive director says the program will continue to run until the funds run out.

Centre officials say they’ve applied for funding through the United Way and are accepting donations from the community. Anyone who donates over $25 will receive a tax receipt, whether it be through the website, e-transfer or by mailed cheque.

“Based on where we stand now, we’re looking to help approximately 40 families,” said Carpenter.

She adds that she would like to receive enough funding to help 200 people during this time.

The program is designed so that women can call the centre, talk to a peer support worker and then the situation will be accessed.

Each client is assisted differently depending on their needs and how many family members are in the house.

“It’s still continuing to do what we were doing prior to. So we want to make sure our clients aren’t left in the dark, we want to make sure we’re still there to help them out when they need us,” said Carpenter.

She says the clients are extremely thankful for the extra help, especially right now.

“We’re not just providing them with basic needs, it’s what they need right now. It’s always a question we ask is ‘what do you need right now?'” said Carpenter.

With the priority being on food items right now, Carpenter says sometimes they’re able to add special items, like instant custard for people to make desserts.

“Anything we can do at this time that will help us feel good in the situation we’re in is definitely a bonus,” said Carpenter.

The centre is using a third-party delivery service to get the food donations to their clients, making sure to practice the physical distancing recommendations to ensure everyone’s safety. Grocery store gift cards are also an option depending on the individual’s situation.

Carpenter says on top of the basic needs packages, the centre is still offering resources and helping clients connect to other services.