From building houses to feeding the hungry, supplying vehicles to helping kids head back to school – Acts of Kindness (AOK) covers a lot of ground when it comes to charitable efforts in Aldergrove.
But in times of such uncertainty and social disruption, how can an organization continue to help others when they themselves need a helping hand to ride out the storm?
Anderline Bredy, AOK’s project coordinator and associate pastor at Church in the Valley, said she took over her role this past February – mere weeks before the real effects of COVID-19 took hold in Langley.
“I came to a new place, creating a space as a new mom,” she said, recalling the excitement of that time.
AOK has been a charitable fixture in the community since 1996, having facilitated numerous family support and single mom programs such as the Extreme Home Repair, which transforms the home of someone facing difficult times.
The Single Mom’s Oil Change is a service offered twice a year where volunteers provide a free oil change for single parents who have children at home – often working on an average of 60 vehicles each afternoon.
Food and clothing donations have also been primary programs that AOK offers during different outlets throughout the year.
Then COVID-19 hit.
All of the yearly fixtures that Bredy was excited to be a part of came to a complete standstill, seeing as how most activities relied on volunteer groups coming together.
“For the first time in 17 years, the Extreme Home Repair couldn’t happen,” Bredy said.
Sandra and Ken Murphy had been chosen as the 2020 home repair recipients last Christmas, a gift that came after Sandra lost both her feet and several fingers to amputation.
The aim was to make their home wheelchair-friendly in May, but social distancing restrictions put a halt to the plans.
“It really was best for us to not do it right now,” Bredy said, noting that when it is safe to do so, the home repair will go through.
“People really take time for this and show up. Through businesses and partnerships, everything is donated. All of the supplies and time, the wood, carpentry skills… we have an amazing electrician who comes out,” she explained.
Other hands-on events such as two annual oil changes had to be postponed as well.
Then, the annual charity golf tournament set for Sept. 15 at Morgan Creek, where 80 per cent of AOK’s funding comes from, was moved to 2021.
“It funds everything we do,” Bredy said. “Unfortunately because of that, our fear has been what are we going to do now?”
Bredy said a lot of partners have stepped up and even more volunteers have been lending a helping hand to facilitate programs under COVID restrictions, making a difficult year much easier to navigate.
Care bags have been packed with food, supplies, and goodies and then dropped off to families, single moms, and seniors around Aldergrove.
Cars for Moms has still been a fruitful endeavour, with nine vehicles being donated to AOK throughout the summer, which can then be donated to a single parent family in need.
Most recently, AOK hosted a “Back2School” themed family market where people could pick up free clothes, backpacks, and more on Sept. 3.
So, despite financial implications from the pandemic, Bredy said the community needs are being kept at forefront, signifying the important role organizations like AOK play in Aldergrove.
“Our motto is compassion and I always ask volunteers why they want to help,” she said. “Ultimately, every human life is important and deserves dignity.”
While fundraisers will be planned for later on in the year, Bredy encouraged people to visit www.actsofkindness.ca for not only ways to help keep programs growing, but to access a list of support programs that may offer aid and comfort during challenging times.
“We can’t do this without the public, but we’re still here and we’ll continue to operate,” Bredy assured.
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