'CareMongering:' How Hamilton residents are fighting COVID-19 with kindness
'The one thing that gets us through is caring for each other'
When Jim Savage walks toward a home with a bag full of groceries in each hand, it's usually his own — but this weekend, the 60-year-old has been showing up in front of houses with a shopping cart full of supplies for strangers who can't zip around Hamilton to buy groceries as more COVID-19 cases pop up around the city.
He is one of the thousands of locals who have joined an online group to help deliver items to those who can't afford them or can't get around the city easily.
"Right now, I'm just doing grocery runs," he told CBC News. "People are immunosupressed, they're afraid to go out and they need people to do their shopping."
Disability Justice Network of Ontario and the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network created the group on Friday which has roughly 1,700 members as of Sunday afternoon.
This comes as Hamilton has announced five confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Savage joined the group the day it opened and has done four grocery runs so far.
"They're shocked people are actually doing this sort of thing. [They say] 'I still can't believe you do this,' and I'm standing there with eggs in my hand," he said.
"Those people who are reaching out because they need help are getting the help they need."
Theron Pierce, who uses they/them pronouns, has forked out money they had set aside for a vacation to help those in need.
Instead of spending money on Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, Pierce has been buying sanitary wipes, toilet paper and other supplies for those who can't get to a store.
"Folks in the downtown core who are working class or low-income don't have vehicles and rely on transit, which is now taboo," said Pierce, who added that they want to help as much as possible before undergoing a planned surgery, which would leave their immune system vulnerable.
Pierce and Savage both said grocery stores have been running low on supplies and have been packed with shoppers.
"It's pretty frustrating, I've seen a lot of people on mobility devices being unable to get around ... and the shelves are totally empty," Pierce said.
Hamilton group inspires Burlington residents
Hamilton's group also inspired a Burlington group, which formed on Sunday and already has more than 500 members.
"I wanted to find ways to fill the gaps in what needs people might have," said Beth Martin Snook, the organizer of the Burlington group.
"My neighbourhood has a lot of elderly people ... I just think it's a great opportunity through the Internet to connect our community members who are able or willing to help and people who might need something but might not be able to find it."
She said people have already started sharing resources and coordinating ways to share supplies.
Niagara also has its own group for locals with about 2,000 members.
Pierce said groups like these offer a glimmer of hope as precautionary measures shut down cities around the world.
"The one thing that gets us through is caring for each other."