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Volunteer During the Pandemic With Spark Ontario

More than 6,500 Ontarians have offered to deliver food, run errands and connect with seniors and people with disabilities during COVID-19.

ONTARIO - Volunteers and small businesses in Ontario have been stepping up in big ways to help local seniors and other vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thousands of people are generously giving their time and resources to make and deliver food, run errands, and check in on those who are self-isolating.

Premier Doug Ford says the stories are absolutely moving. 

"Over the past few weeks, I've been moved by hundreds of stories of people reaching out in selfless acts of kindness to help those most in need. It's that Ontario spirit that is giving us the strength to pull through these tough times. If you have some spare time, I encourage you to sign up and volunteer because we are all in this together."

On April 9, the government announced it was investing $100,000 in its partnership with SPARK Ontario to support the province's first bilingual volunteer hub connecting volunteers with community organizations that support vulnerable Ontarians. To date, the response has been tremendous:

- Over 54,000 users have visited the SPARK Ontario website to learn how they can volunteer;
- Over 3,500 civic-minded Ontarians have signed up on the site to volunteer, and over 3,100 have contacted community organizations regarding a volunteer opportunity; and
- 141 community organizations have registered for volunteer matching and more than 100 COVID-19-related volunteer opportunities have been posted online.

Today, volunteers are supporting seniors, people with disabilities and others in need as they stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak with food delivery, shopping for supplies, running errands, providing remote mental health and crisis support, and tutoring kids.Volunteers are also mentoring seniors on technology to ensure they are connected online, as well as providing mental health support to both seniors and people with disabilities by writing letters and poems.

The government has partnered with the Older Adults Centres Association of Ontario to help implement the Seniors Centres Without Walls model of programming, where isolated seniors can participate in group programs over the phone. As of April 30, 2020, 35 programs have begun running in their communities.

Through the new Ontario Community Support Program, the province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and their large volunteer base to increase Meals on Wheels food deliveries and deliver essential supplies to isolated, low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions. More than 500 meal referrals and nearly 2,000 essential supply referrals have been made since the program launched in mid-April.

You can find more information on how to volunteer online here. 

To identify a Meals on Wheels provider in your local community and request service, visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca.

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